Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Spain to play Northern Ireland in New York

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland are being lined up for a money-spinning friendly against World Champions Spain in New York this summer.

The Spanish Football Federation are in negotiations with the Irish FA about a potential friendly in New York on Friday 7 June or Saturday, June 8.

Spain will be in the United States preparing for the FIFA Confederations Cup which will take place in Brazil between 16 June and 30 June, where they will face African Champions Nigeria, Copa America winners Uruguay and minnows Tahiti, who were the surprise winners of last year's Oceanic Nations Cup.

According to Spanish daily newspaper Marca, manager Michael O'Neill  and his squad have been earmarked as pre-tournament opponents as the Spaniards are seeking warm-up game against a lower ranked outfit who are not in World Cup qualifying action this summer.

Wales are another possibility, but Northern Ireland are understood to be the match promoters' preferred option due to the marketability of an Irish side in New York.

If the lucrative friendly goes ahead it could cause tensions within the IFA as summer friendlies have proved unpopular with the playing and coaching staff in the past.

Last summer a threadbare Northern Ireland squad were hammered 6-0 by Holland in Amsterdam as the Dutch side prepared for Euro 2012.

Hopefully a similar outcome will not materialise in the Big Apple.

But it's hard to think of O'Neill's men as anything other than cannon fodder as Spain will be taking a full strength squad to Brazil, where they are hoping to complete a rare international treble of holding the World Cup, the European Championships and the Confederations Cup at once.

Add to that the searing New York summer heat and this could prove a very tricky tie for Northern Ireland, against arguably one of the greatest international sides of all time.

The last time Northern Ireland played in the States was in 2010 when they lost 2-0 to Turkey in Connecticut in a game that featured the likes of Alan Blayney, Robbie Garrett, Jamie Mulgrew and Kevin Braniff, as well as now Corby Town player Michael Bryan.

Northern Ireland's last trip to New York was in 2006 when they went down 2-0 to Uruguay in the Giants Stadium under Lawrie Sanchez.

The IFA declined to comment on the matter when contacted.

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