Irish FA on alert after bomb blast in Cyprus

Michael O'Neill is preparing for Wednesday's friendly in Cyprus
Michael O'Neill is preparing for Wednesday's friendly in Cyprus

The Irish Football Association are “monitoring developments” in Cyprus after a referee’s car was bombed in the country – where Northern Ireland are due to play a friendly on Wednesday.

The IFA have substantiated reports that the car of a top Cypriot official – named by the Cyprus Football Association as Leontios Trattos – was damaged by a bomb explosion on Friday morning, leading to all First Division fixtures being cancelled in the country this weekend.

Northern Ireland are due to face Cyprus in Nicosia on Wednesday night, with a friendly between Ukraine and the United States also scheduled for Larnaca due to political unrest in the former.

IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson confirmed last night that he had been in contact with Marios Leskaritis, the CFA president, and that the bombing is currently viewed as an isolated incident unconnected to international football.

There are no plans to cancel the fixture at present, but discussions between the associations will continue as facts are established.

Nelson said: “I have been in touch with the president of the Cyprus FA and we will continue to monitor developments.”

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill named a 22-man squad for the match on Wednesday, with the likes of Southampton’s Steven Davis and West Brom duo Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt included.