Northern Ireland announce 2018 friendlies with Panama and Costa Rica

Tim Goode/PA Images

Northern Ireland will play friendlies against World Cup qualifiers Panama and Costa Rica next year, the Irish Football Association has announced.

Michael O'Neill's men will face England's group stage opponents Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City on Tuesday, May 29 and will then travel to San Jose to tackle Costa Rica on Sunday June 3.

O'Neill, who has been linked with numerous other jobs since Northern Ireland were beaten in the World Cup qualifying playoffs and was given permission to talk to the Scottish Football Association about their managerial vacancy, says he is looking forward to next year's trip.

He told the Irish FA's website: "In 2014 we travelled to South America to play Uruguay and Chile and those matches were hugely beneficial to us ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

"Playing in Central America will be a new experience for everyone involved and while we will enjoy that aspect of the tour, most importantly we will be using the matches to give us solid preparation for the UEFA Nations League and UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.''