NI v Czech Republic



On behalf of the Irish Football Association I am pleased to welcome the officials, players and supporters of Czech Republic to Northern Ireland and in particular to our National Football Stadium in Belfast for this evening's FIFA World Cup 2018 Group C qualifying match.

There are now only three games to play in our quest for a much wanted play-off place and tonight we play the tie billed as the defining game for both countries in the current campaign. It was identified as such away back when the draw for the group stages was made and, while Baku perhaps eclipses it, there is no doubting the importance of this fixture. The results on Friday mean that Northern Ireland go into the game with a seven-point advantage and look to kick on towards the final two fixtures and the play-offs. However, Czech Republic will be attempting to get their qualification hopes back on course with a win - so it makes for an exciting 90 minutes. Since 2001 there have been five matches between Northern Ireland and Czech Republic, all in World Cup Qualifying, including the drawn game in Prague last September. In total there have been three 0-0 draws and two wins for

Czech Republic, the victories coming home and away in qualification for World Cup 2002. Since that fantastic last minute strike by Stuart Dallas in Baku on 10 June there has been much excitement and anticipation among the Northern Ireland football following as they looked forward to the games in San Marino and the one tonight. The atmosphere in the National Stadium for all our games provides a wonderful experience for our players and supporters and we look forward to more of the same again this evening. I hope that you all enjoy another exciting game and have a safe journey home. David J Martin President Irish Football Association


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