The New Zealand national team has confirmed that they would play warm up games ahead of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup billed for Russia.
The All Whites plan to play Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast on the second day of June, and then face a club side in a closed match in Dublin five days later.
The Head Coach Anthony Hudson would also prepare for the tournament playing an international friendly with World No 72 Belarus in Minsk on June 12 before they depart for St Petersburg. The plan was to strategically play decent teams that can help the team. Northern Ireland reached the Round of 16 at the Euro 2016 so they are a side that would reveal inadequacies, Hudson opines.
“We’re really pleased with our fixtures leading into the FIFA Confederations Cup. It was great to announce Belarus during the week and we are pleased to have confirmed a game against a top team like Northern Ireland who were very impressive during the Euros last year. “We know it will be a really good test in front of their home fans, we are looking forward to it,” Hudson said.
The Martin O’Neill side are a decent side that defeated Slovenia 1-0, played a draw with eventual Euro 2016 semi finalists Wales, before beating Belarus 3-0. They lost in the slimmest of margins to football powerhouse Germany, defeated Ukraine 2-0 but lost to Poland 1-0. They played a goalless draw with Slovakia in the European Championship last year. A Gareth McAuley own goal was the difference when they met with Wales in the last 16.
“This gives us the chance to play top quality opposition and logistically it suits us as we get the games we need and don’t waste any time with extra travel. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are great places to tour and this camp will give us great preparation for Russia,” the coach added.
New Zealand are ranked 111 in the FIFA World rankings. They are appearing in Russia as the OFC Nations Cup champions.