All Whites to play Northern Ireland in June ahead of Confederations Cup

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson continues to land quality games for his team ahead of the Confederations Cup.

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson continues to land quality games for his team ahead of the Confederations Cup.

The All Whites buildup to the Confederations Cup has been further boosted with a warm-up match against Northern Ireland.

New Zealand will play Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast on June 2. They will also play a local club combination in Dublin in a closed match on June 7.

The All Whites have already confirmed against Belarus on June 12 and coach Anthony Hudson suggested more top line matches were in the pipeline .

Northern Ireland will provide a stern test, being ranked No 35 in the latest Fifa world rankings. New Zealand are at 111.

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 All Whites coach Anthony Hudson said the Northern Ireland, who qualified for the final 16 of the European Championship last year, would present a strong challenge.

"We're really pleased with our fixtures leading into the Fifa Confederations Cup," Hudson said as the latest buildup games were confirmed on Tuesday.

"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."

"We are not going to the Confederations Cup just to take part, we are going there to upset teams.

"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 key for us is now we have a good amount of time together to help us prepare for the tournament. We are really looking forward to these fixtures."

Northern Ireland are using the international friendly as a warm-up for their World Cup qualifier away against Azerbaijan eight days later.

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"The players will need a game at that time as some of their seasons will have finished as early as the end of April," Northern Ireland manager MIchael O'Neill told the BBC.

"We'll use it sensibly and get as many of the squad on the pitch as possible."

Northern Ireland's results last year saw them beat Slovenia 1-0, draw with Wales 1-1 and beat Belarus 3-0. At the European Championship, they narrowly lost to World Cup holders Germany 1-0, beat Ukraine 2-0, lost to Poland 1-0 and drew 0-0 with Slovakia to make the final 16 where they lost 1-0 to Wales after a Gareth McAuley own goal.

The All Whites' pool at the Confederations Cup sees them play hosts Russia, Portugal and Mexico.

All Whites fixtures pre-FIFA Confederations Cup

June 2: v Northern Ireland in Belfast, Northern Ireland 
June 7: v Club side (closed game) in Dublin, Republic of Ireland 
June 12: v Belarus, Minsk, Belarus

2017 FIFA Confederations Cup – All Whites draw (NZ times)
June 18: v Russia, Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg, 3am
June 22: v Mexico Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, 6am
June 25: v Portugal, Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg, 3am




 - Stuff

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