NI start World Cup qualifiers with away trip to Russia

Steve Davis and David Healy
NI pair Steve Davis and David Healy will start with a trip to Russia

Northern Ireland will start their World Cup 2014 Group F qualifying campaign with a difficult away trip to second seeds Russia on 7 September 2012.

That will be followed by a home match against Luxembourg on 11 September and a trip to Portugal on 16 October.

Azerbaijan will come to Windsor Park on 14 November, with home games against Russia on 22 March 2013 and Israel on 26 March to follow.

Portugal visit Belfast on 6 September, followed by three away fixtures.

On 10 September 2013, Northern Ireland will travel to Luxembourg, on 11 October they will be away to Azerbaijan and a game away to Israel on 15 October will conclude the campaign.

Major renovation of Windsor Park is expected to be underway by the time the final three fixtures are played.

The Irish Football Association are currently weighing up candidates to replace former manager Nigel Worthington, who stepped down last month after a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, and thrashed out details of their next qualification programme on Friday.

IFA president Jim Shaw, chief executive Patrick Nelson and head of international administration David Currie were present at a meeting in Luxembourg, where representatives from the six nations in Group F met to discuss the schedule.

The winners of the nine European groups qualify automatically and the eight best runners-up play off for the four places remaining.

Northern Ireland World Cup 2014 Group Four Qualifying fixtures:

7 September 2012 - Russia (away)

11 September 2012 - Luxembourg (home)

16 October 2012 - Portugal (away)

14 November 2012 - Azerbaijan (home)

22 March 2013 - Russia (home)

26 March 2013 - Israel (home)

6 September 2013 - Portugal (home)

10 September 2013 - Luxembourg (away)

11 October 2013 - Azerbaijan (away)

15 October 2013 - Israel (away)

The winners of the nine European groups qualify automatically and the eight best runners-up play off for the four places remaining.

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