Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland to play Latvia in Euro 2016 warm-up game

Northern Ireland will kick start their preparations for the European Championships finals with a friendly against Latvia.

The game will be played at Windsor Park on Friday, November 13.

It will be the first home fixture since Northern Ireland completed their successful qualifying campaign by topping Group F following a 1-1 draw against Finland in Helsinki.

Latvia are fresh from competing in what was arguably the toughest qualifying group for the Euro finals next summer.

Despite finishing bottom of Group A, which featured Czech Republic, Netherlands, Iceland, Turkey and Kazakhstan, they did have some notable successes along the way.

They drew home and away against Turkey – who qualified for the finals as the best third-placed side – and also notched up an away draw against eventual table toppers Czech Republic.

And earlier this month they picked up a point against Iceland, who finished runners-up in the group, in Reykjavik. Their other point in the group came away to Kazakhstan.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said the game will be an important first step as he prepares to lead his team to France next June.

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He said: “Latvia will provide us with a good test. They had some impressive results in what was a difficult group. Picking up points against Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey away from home is no mean feat.

“This game is also a chance for us to start building momentum as we prepare for our first ever appearance at the European Championship finals.”

Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said he hopes Northern Ireland fans will use the game as an opportunity to celebrate the team’s remarkable success in Group F where they became the first pot five team to ever top a Euros qualifying group.

He added: “While the celebrations with more than 2,000 travelling Northern Ireland fans in Helsinki were fantastic, we are hoping this will be an even bigger celebration in Belfast, allowing thousands more fans to say well done to Michael and the team on their incredible success in the qualifying campaign.”

Tickets for the game will go on public sale next week but campaign card holders will receive notification of a 48-hour priority window in which to purchase tickets.

For ticket links and full information go to the IFA website.

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