Northern Ireland to play Israel in September friendly

Steven Davis and Michael O'Neill
NI and Israel drew 1-1 in their last meeting in a World Cup qualifier in October 2013

Northern Ireland are to host Israel in a friendly international at Windsor Park on Tuesday, 11 September.

The fixture completes Michael O'Neill's side's schedule for 2018, which includes Nations League games against Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The game will come three days after they play Bosnia in Belfast.

Northern Ireland have faced Israel nine times, winning three matches, and they last met in a World Cup qualifier in 2013 - a 1-1 draw in Tel Aviv.

A Gerry Armstrong goal in November 1981 gave Northern Ireland the 1-0 win which ensured their qualification for the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

The 11 September date was listed as a Nations League game day, but with neither country having a competitive fixture on that date, the friendly will be used by both teams to prepare for games later in the tournament.

Among the well-known faces in the Israel squad are ex-Chelsea, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers defender Tal Ben Haim and former Liverpool and all-time Israel appearance record holder Yossi Benayoun, who has 102 caps for his country.

Brighton and Hove Albion striker Tomer Hemed and Club Brugge midfielder Lior Refaelov are also in the Israel squad.

"When we are looking at options for friendly matches we want teams that will challenge us and help us improve as a squad," said NI manager Michael O'Neill.

"Israel offer both of those things. This is an excellent game for us and we will use it to build on what will hopefully be a positive result against Bosnia.

"This friendly match completes our schedule for 2018 and I am pleased with the mix of fixtures that we have.

"With friendly games against South Korea, Panama, Costa Rica, the Republic of Ireland and now Israel, as well as the competitive matches against Bosnia and Austria, we have a varied but exciting schedule and one which I believe will stand us in good stead ahead of the start of Euro 2020 qualifying next year."

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