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Michael O'Neill's side will commence their 2013 fixtures in Malta ahead of the resumption of the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign

Northern Ireland will play Malta in an international friendly on February 6 2013, the IFA has announced.

The game will provide manager Michael O'Neill with an opportunity to prepare his players for the crucial 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Israel at Windsor Park in March.

The match will be played at the Ta'Qali National Stadium in Malta, with the kick-off time to be confirmed. The game marks the first meeting between the sides since a 1-1 draw in a 2005 friendly, when David Healy scored Northern Ireland's goal and Keith Gillespie was sent off.

Northern Ireland are currently fourth in World Cup qualification Group F with O'Neill yet to record a victory as manager since taking over from Nigel Worthington in December 2011.

Malta are bottom of Group B, without a point after playing three matches.

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