Northern Ireland to face Malta in challenge match at end of May

Northern Ireland to face Malta in challenge match at end of May

Ian Barraclough.

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan


NORTHERN Ireland’s senior men’s team will play Malta in an international challenge match at the end of this month.

Ian Baraclough’s side were scheduled to face Turkey in a UEFA-sanctioned friendly in Antalya on Monday May 31 but with Turkey being placed on the UK government’s red list for travel that match has been cancelled.

Instead, Northern Ireland will now play Malta in a friendly on the same date in Austria. The behind closed doors match is being staged at the Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, with the kick-off time still to be finalised.

Baraclough and his squad are due to travel to Austria for a training camp prior to the game and after facing the Maltese they will prepare for a second end of season friendly against Ukraine.

The challenge match against the Ukrainians is set to be played on Thursday June 3 at the Dnipro Arena, a 31,000-capacity stadium which is the home of Ukrainian Premier League side SC Dnipro-1. That match will also be played behind closed doors.

Like Northern Ireland, Malta will be using the match later this month to continue their preparations for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers this autumn. Malta are in Group H of the European qualifiers along with Croatia, Cyprus, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough, who will announce his squad early next week, said the games would allow the players to regroup after a long season in sunnier climes and face off against some solid opposition.

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