The Socceroos’ preparation for the World Cup in Russia has begun to take shape, after Football Federation confirmed a pre-tournament friendly against Norway.
will face Norway on Friday, March 23, at the 28,000-capacity Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, the first meeting between the two nations in almost 14 years.
It will be the first match under a yet-to-be-appointed new coach, and the decision to play away from home in the March international window was made to alleviate travel demands on the core of the squad who play in Europe.
It’s understood a deal to play Norway was made with the view the match is suitable preparation for the Socceroos’ World Cup campaign. FFA is seeking to arrange friendly games in March, May and June with countries that play a similar style to ‘s group C opponents, and Norway are regarded as similar to Denmark.
“For the March window we identified the need to play friendlies in Europe where the bulk of our players are based to minimise the travel demand on the players selected, as well as their clubs. Throughout the qualification process our players had a heavy travel and match schedule, so playing in Europe will lighten their loads leading up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said.
Norway are ranked 59th in the world and finished fourth in their UEFA qualification group, behind Germany, Northern Ireland and Czech Republic.
“We are excited to have secured this international friendly match against Norway and would like to thank the Norwegian Football Association for the opportunity to play in Oslo,” Gallop said.
“Norway are especially strong on home soil and last year managed wins over Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan, as well as 1-1 draws with both Czech Republic and Sweden in Oslo. We’re sure that our match schedule in March will provide our new head coach with a great chance to test the squad against quality opponents.”
Meanwhile, FFA is looking to arrange a World Cup farewell game in late May in , and it’s understood that fixture could be held at the new 60,000-seat Perth Stadium.