Northern Ireland are on target to compete for the main trophy at this year’s Homeless World Cup in California.
After winning five of their six games in the group stages at the tournament, finishing second in seven-team Group B just a point behind table toppers Portugal, they are now competing in Section 1 within stage two of the competition (Group A).
And if they finish first or second in the group then Northern Ireland will compete for the overall Homeless World Cup (top eight teams across a quartet of four-team groups) this weekend.
Their first game in Group A saw them take on Austria yesterday and they turned on the style once again, winning by nine goals to one to top the group.
Mexico defeated Poland 8-3 in the other match in the group and Northern Ireland will face the Mexicans in their final group game in America tonight. Before that they will take on Poland later today.
Even if Northern Ireland don’t manage to finish first or second in Group A they will be competing for silverware as the four-a-side tournament in the USA draws to a close. Teams finishing third or fourth in the four Section 1 groups will go forward to compete for the Nelsen Way Award at the trophy stage this weekend.
The boys in green and white booked their place in Section 1 with group stage victories against Norway (7-2) and Finland (6-1). Prior to that they defeated Switzerland (9-0), Greece (8-2) and Costa Rica (4-1). Their only group stage defeat came against Portugal (6-2).
The Homeless World Cup, which is currently being staged at California State University’s Hornet Football Stadium in Sacramento, is run annually by the UK-based Homeless World Cup Foundation.
Street Soccer NI, a charity working with homeless people and disadvantaged groups across Northern Ireland, has put the eight-strong Northern Ireland squad together. Team NI are being supported this year by Simon Community NI, Choice Housing, Nationwide and the Irish FA Foundation among others.
Image: Northern Ireland celebrate their success in the group stages at the Homeless World Cup.