Northern Ireland v New Zealand Betting: Watertight defence to see hosts through

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Our tipster expects Michael O'Neill's boys from Belfast to chalk up another clean sheet in Friday's international friendly fixture from Windsor Park

Northern Ireland entertain New Zealand in an international friendly fixture at Windsor Park on Friday night - although both nations have their eyes firmly fixed on bigger prizes.

Michael O'Neill's men have made a solid enough start to their World Cup qualification campaign, picking up 10 points from their first five fixtures in Group C; as a result, the Green and White Army, who reached the knockout stages of last summer's European Championships, harbour a realistic hope of qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986.

Drawn alongside Germany in Group C, second place and a potential play-off perhaps represents Northern Ireland's most realistic route to Russia, although the boys from Belfast face stiff competition from Czech Republic and Azerbaijan for that runners-up spot behind the defending world champions.

Northern Ireland Croatia

O'Neill's men face a crucial trip to face Azerbaijan later this month and, with the domestic season over, the Northern Ireland boss will view this friendly fixture as the ideal opportunity to ensure that his squad are fit and firing ahead of that match in Baku.

The Green and White Army are chalked up as an 11/20 (1.55) chance with bet365 to warm up with a win in front of their own supporters, with 14/5 (3.80) that the match ends all square. Northern Ireland have lost just one of their last 13 matches on their own patch.

New Zealand, though, will themselves be looking for a morale-boosting result as they continue their preparations for their participation in this month's Confederations Cup in Russia.

Anthony Hudson's men have been drawn alongside Mexico and Portugal, as well as the host nation and New Zealand will feel that O'Neill's men will provide a solid test ahead of the Confederations Cup kick off.

GFX FACT NORTHERN IRELAND V NEW ZEALAND

The visitors are in fine form ahead of this match, for New Zealand have been beaten in just one of their last 16 fixtures and there is 21/4 (6.25) that Hudson's team extend that run in style by claiming a famous win at Windsor Park.

West Ham United defender Winston Reid and Leeds United striker Chris Wood, who scored 27 goals for the Whites in the Championship this season, are likely to be amongst the more familiar faces in the New Zealand line-up, but Wood will need to be at his very best if he is to penetrate the Northern Ireland defence, for O'Neill's men have kept six clean sheets in their last seven home games.

A low-scoring tussle seems a likely outcome on this occasion with 4/7 (1.57) that there are fewer than three goals scored when these teams lock horns. Northern Ireland's defensive discipline, however, is admirable and better value could lie in the 5/6 (1.83) quote for the hosts to keep yet another clean sheet in Belfast.

Northern Ireland clean sheet at 5/6 (1.83) for a 2pt stake with bet365

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