Northern Ireland v Bulgaria live stream, Sky Sports, Wednesday 31st March, 7:45pm BST
Northern Ireland continue their World Cup 2022 qualification campaign as they attempt to make it to a first finals since 1986, with Bulgaria the visitors to Windsor Park on Wednesday night.
The Green and White Army lost their opener 2-0 to Italy but can take heart from a positive second-half showing against the Azzurri in Parma.
That said, a 2-1 friendly defeat at home to the United States on Sunday stretched Northern Ireland’s winless run to seven games. Ian Baraclough’s side beat Bosnia and Herzegovina on penalties in the Euro 2020 play-offs – they subsequently lost to Slovakia to miss out on this summer’s tournament – but haven’t recorded a victory in 90 minutes in 12 outings.
Bulgaria, meanwhile, have already played two qualifiers, losing 3-1 to Switzerland and, like Northern Ireland, 2-0 to Italy. Wednesday’s meeting in Belfast will be the first between the two countries since February 2008, when a Jonny Evans own handed Bulgaria a 1-0 win.
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Leicester centre-back Evans is one of several Premier League players likely to be involved in this one, along with Leeds left-back Stuart Dallas and Burnley goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Jamal Lowe could feature, having missed the Italy defeat injured – the Newcastle left-back came off the bench against the USA. Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles made his international debut in the same.
Bulgaria’s squad is lacking in household names, but defender Valentin Antov and striker Andrey Galabinov both play their club football in Serie A, for Bologna and Spezia respectively. This will be Yasen Petrov’s third game as head coach.
Former Northern Ireland defender Stephen Craigan has described this qualifier as “the be all and end all”, with Baraclough’s men already six points behind the top two in Group C – although they have played only one game to Italy and Switzerland’s two.
Kick-off is at 7:45 BST and the game is being shown live on Sky Sports Football in the UK.
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