Northern Ireland – New Zealand (International Friendly)
Northern Ireland national team and New Zealand national team face each other this Friday night at Windsor Park, in Belfast, in a friendly match. This is Northern Ireland’s first match since March 23, where they faced Norway for the 2018 World Cup qualification’s 5th round, and won 2-0, and are testing new options before facing Azerbaijan in an official match. New Zealand, on their turn, are in the right path to secure access to Russia in 2018, and arrive here in order to get well prepared for the Confederations Cup, starting this June.
Northern Ireland are preparing for their first friendly match of the year, having only played one match since 2017’s beginning, which were against Norway for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, and won 2-0 back in March. The Green and White Army arrive here in order to improve their form for the World Cup’s qualification matches that are coming closer, and they really need to be at their maximum form if they are to get a chance of securing access to Russia. The Northern Ireland are in Group C of the qualification rounds and have 10 points, 5 less than the leader Germany, a very tough opponent to overcome. Most of the players in this national team play in the Scottish Premiership, or in the three top tires of english football.
In their last 5 matches, Northern Ireland has a record of 3 victories and 2 defeats. This sequence of results started with a 4-0 victory against San Marino. This result was followed by a 2-0 defeat against Germany, a 4-0 victory over Azerbaijan, a 0-3 defeat against Croatia, friendly match, and in their last clash, a 2-0 victory against Norway.
Probable Lineup: McGovern – McLaughlin, McAuley, Evans and Cathcart – Davis and Norwood – Ward, Brunt and Dallas – Lafferty.
New Zealand, on their turn, are preparing for their third match since 2017’s beginning, but will be the first friendly this year, since the other two they have played were for the 2018 World Cup’s qualifications, winning both matches against Fiji. This will also be the only friendly match before starting their campaign in the Confederations Cup, where they will be in the same group as Mexico, Russia and Portugal. In the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the All Whites have already finished in the top spot of Group A and will face Tahiti, the national team of French Polynesia, in order of securing access to play-off against the 5th placed of the South America qualifiers, which will grant passe to Russia in 2018.
Only a few players of this national team play in Europe, and the defender Sam Brotherton, Sunderland, the midfielder Bill Tuiloma, Marseille, and the forwards Chris Wood and Monty Patterson, Leeds United and Ipswich Town, might be the most capable players, since they probably have a higher pace of play, given the intensity of their competitions.
In their last 5 matches, New Zealand has a record of 3 victories and 2 draws. This sequence of results started with a 1-1 draw agains United States, friendly match. This result was followed by a 2-0 victory against New Caledonia, a 0-0 draw against New Caledonia, a 0-2 victory against Fiji, and in their last clash, a 2-0 victory over Fiji.
Probable Lineup: Moss – Ingham, Smith, Colvey and Wynne – Tuiloma and McGlinchey – Thomas, Lewis e Rojas – Wood.
This will be the first time these two national teams play against each other. Although New Zealand are in good form in their respective World Cup qualification rounds, they face here a more talented team than those they are used to face. Northern Ireland more organized and have more quality in their squad, so they should secure a victory here.