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World Cup 2018

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Futsal men face Gibraltar before heading off for Home Nations

 

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland's futsal trailblazers will look to follow up their history-making victory in San Marino back in May when they take on Gibraltar in a double-header on Friday and Saturday.

The two countries have never met since Gibraltar were admitted by Uefa four years ago and will do so for the first time in the indoor version of the game.

And it is far from a meaningless friendly for the Northern Ireland boys as a week later they will head to Edinburgh for the Home Nations Championship, the tournament which saw them step on to the international stage for the first time a year ago.

A goal by former Crusaders and Cliftonville defender Ciaran Donaghy gave Northern Ireland a 1-0 win in San Marino to record the first international futsal victory.

"It has been a year since we established our international futsal programme," said Northern Ireland manager Jonny Michael, whose team will be boosted by the introduction of Glenavon player-coach Kris Lindsay.

"We are still on a steep learning curve but the improvement we have seen in the squad has been incredible.

"By the end of the year we will have played 10 international games and our players will go into 2018 with increased experience.

He added: "We have a determination to produce a high level of performance and prepare effectively for the Home Nations Championships the following week.

"As a group we know that we are steadily progressing and we will be aiming to give a good account of ourselves in these next five games and demonstrate how far we have come in 12 months."

Northern Ireland will come up against a familiar face when they go to Gibraltar as former Irish FA technical director Desi Currie is now employed on the rock in a similar position.

Belfast Telegraph

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