Northern Ireland will face Greece, Kosovo and Cyprus or Estonia in the group stage of the third edition of UEFA’s Nations League.
Ian Baraclough’s team are the top seeds in Group 2 in League C of the 2022-23 competition.
Northern Ireland were in Pot 1 for the League C draw, which was staged in Switzerland this afternoon, while the Greeks were in Pot 2 and Kosovo in the third pot.
Cyprus will be up against Estonia in a play-off in March to determine which nation takes the final place in the group and which one drops to League D.
All group games in the 2022-23 competition will be played next June and September. Four of the six matchdays will be in June (between the 2nd and 14th of that month) due to the winter scheduling of next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The four group winners in League A will advance to knockout finals in June 2023, while the group winners in the other three leagues (B to D) will all be promoted for the 2024-25 competition.
Northern Ireland, who were relegated from League B last time around, last faced upcoming Nations League C2 opponents Greece in a Euro qualifier in Belfast in October 2015 when goals from Steven Davis (two) and Josh Magennis secured a famous 3-1 win to send Michael O’Neill’s team to Euro 2016.
The boys in green and white have not played Kosovo before, while they last faced Estonia in a friendly in Tallinn back in September when a wonder strike from Shane Ferguson secured a 1-0 win. And their most recent encounter with Cyprus was a friendly in Nicosia in March 2014. That game ended 0-0.
Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough, who was not involved in proceedings having contracted Covid-19, said: “This will be a challenging set of fixtures and a real mixed bag. We have good memories of our last encounter against Greece. On the other hand facing Kosovo will be a first for us. It will give our lads a really good test and I know we will all be relishing the task ahead.”
The League C Group 2 fixtures will be finalised soon.