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Tuesday 29 May 2018
O'Neill looks for win in Panama City

Northern Ireland face Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernández stadium in Panama City today (Tuesday 29 May, 8pm local time and 2am BST).

It’s the hosts' final home match ahead of their first ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup next month, where they will face Belgium, Tunisia and England in Group G of the tournament.

The Central American nation currently sit 55th in the FIFA world rankings, 28 places below Northern Ireland who are in 27th place. 

Panama forward Blas Perez has over 100 caps for his country and offers valuable experience to the team. He’s appeared in four World Cup qualifying campaigns, scoring 11 goals.

In contrast, Northern Ireland have a number of younger players hoping to make their first team debut including Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Conor Hazard, Jordan Thompson, Gavin Whyte and Shayne Lavery.

But it’s a mix of youth and experience for Michael O’Neill’s squad with defenders Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans and Aaron Hughes boasting 255 caps between them. 

The heat and humidity of Panama City may play a part in the match and indeed in Northern Ireland’s game management and substitutions. Even though the game kicks off at 8pm local time the temperature is likely to be in the high 20s.

However, Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is looking for a win. He said: “It’s important for us, having just missed out on a World Cup place, to put in a good performance and hopefully get a positive result. 

“It would be nice to win the game - that will be difficult but that will be our objective."

Panama v Northern Ireland is not being broadcast live on UK television but you will be able to watch highlights of the match on the Northern Ireland Facebook page on Wednesday morning.

You can keep up to date with Northern Ireland’s Central America tour by following @northernireland on Instagram.