Northern Ireland Confident Soccer Match Against Israel Will Go Ahead

Crucial World Cup qualifier in Belfast has been in doubt due to icy conditions and heavy snow.

Israel’s World Cup 2014 qualifying match against Northern Ireland is now expected to go ahead as scheduled on Tuesday night, after a marked improvement in the weather in Belfast. The game is due to kick off at 9:45 P.M. (Israel time) and will be broadcast on Channel 5.

Northern Ireland’s game against Russia was postponed twice last weekend due to heavy snow and there was concern that Tuesday’s game against Israel would be called off too. However, according to the BBC, the Irish Football Association is confident that the playing surface will be in good enough condition to allow the same to go ahead.

On Monday, officials from soccer’s world governing body FIFA inspected the pitch and gave the Israeli team permission to train on it. The match referee will inspect the pitch again later on Tuesday, and Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill told the BBC that, "The pitch is in great condition and should be in fine shape for Tuesday night."

This is a must-win game for Israel, which still harbors hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals, which will be held in Brazil next summer. The last time that Israel qualified for the finals of major international tournament was in 1970.

Last Friday, the national team threw away a promising 3-1 lead over European powerhouse Portugal and ended up drawing 3-3. Failure to beat Northern Ireland tonight to would all but end Israel’s chances of qualifying.

Reuters