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Gower Park to host Uruguay-Panama U20 match - Wednesday 4pm - 2015-05-18

Gower Park will host its first ever men’s international on Wednesday May 20 at 4pm, when Uruguay U-20s play Panama U-20s in a warm-up match ahead of the Fifa U-20 World Cup.

Panama are in Group B, and Uruguay are in Group D for the tournament.

Sadly Fifa officials have banned the match from being played on the Gower No 1 pitch, where Hamilton City Council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in bringing it up to the necessary standard for exactly this sort of occasion.

Gower Park No 1 is an official U-20 World Cup training venue and Fifa takes exclusive control of all Hamilton venues from May 17. It has ruled that such pitches are reserved solely for official team training sessions – and not for warm-up matches.

So it means Uruguay and Panama will play on the mud-based No 2 pitch at Gower, rather than the specially prepared sand-carpeted, irrigated and drained No 1 pitch which has been upgraded at huge cost over the past 16 months.

Melville United have been assisting Uruguayan officials in facilitating the match.

Uruguay play one match in Hamilton, against Mali, in the second game of the day at Waikato Stadium on June 6, after earlier matches in Dunedin.

Panama play their group matches in Wellington and Auckland.

Gower Park has previously hosted a schoolgirl international between New Zealand and Australia in 1997.

Entry at Gower Park is free for the match, though there is a charge for those taking part in the formalities at the aftermatch function in the Melville clubrooms following the match.