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Thursday 04 Apr 2024
Women’s futsal team to play Belgium in friendlies

The Northern Ireland senior women’s futsal team are set to play two friendlies in Newry this weekend.

The games against Belgium are being staged at Newry Leisure Centre on Saturday (6 April -2pm kick-off) and Sunday (noon).

Coach Keith Gibson said: "These will be two tough games for the squad ahead of their World Cup qualifiers later this year. Belgium are a highly rated side and have quality throughout their squad.”

Northern Ireland also played the Belgians in friendlies earlier this year. They were defeated in both matches, however Gibson was pleased with how the team performed against top class opposition.

The first FIFA Futsal Women's World Cup is due to be staged next year with four European qualifying slots among the 16 berths in the final tournament, for which dates and venues are still to be confirmed.

European qualifying will run in three stages between this autumn and next April. All qualifiers will be played as one-venue mini tournaments: preliminary round, main round and elite round. Northern Ireland are due to compete in the preliminary round in the autumn.

New to the Northern Ireland squad for this weekend’s friendlies are Linfield’s Jane McMaster and Omagh’s Louise Devlin.

“The squad have been working hard and will go into these games believing they can show that Northern Ireland futsal is improving rapidly and catching up with the more established nations,” added Gibson.

Entry is free to both games at Newry Leisure Centre.

The 16-strong Northern Ireland squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers – Alice Harkness-Armstrong (Bloomsbury), Laura Devine (Ballymoney).

Fixes – Jane McMaster (Linfield), Jessica Rea (Crusaders), Sarah Crooks (Bangor).

Pivots – Amber Dempster (Bangor), Claire Shaw (Crusaders), Rachel McConnell (Linfield).

Wingers – Aimee-Lee Peachey, Megan Weatherall and Sam Kelly (all Afrimeripean), Louise Devlin and Sasha Funston (both Omagh), Beth McKay (Livingston), Chloe Doak (St James’ Swifts), Ellen McCartney (Camlough Rovers).

Image: The senior women’s futsal squad which faced Belgium earlier this year.