Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Swede Dreams

Ireland not concerned with 'spoiling the party' as Pauw's side eye 'magic' result

The Swedes can secure automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup in Gothenburg tomorrow night.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Apr 2022

VERA PAUW SAYS her Republic of Ireland side are not concerned with “spoiling the party for Sweden” ahead of tomorrow night’s massive World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg.

The Girls In Green face red-hot Sweden, the team who sit second in Fifa‘s world rankings, at Gamla Ullevi Stadium [KO 5.30pm Irish time, live on RTÉ 2].

The hosts have all but booked their ticket to Australia and New Zealand 2023, and a draw or win will see them seal automatic qualification as Group A’s runaway leaders.

Anything other than a defeat would be a major bonus for Ireland (ranked 30th), who have put themselves in a favourable position for a play-off spot.

Pauw’s side are second in the group — level on points with Finland though have a game in hand — with seven points from four games. (The results so far: 0-1 defeat to Sweden, 2-1 win in Finland, 1-1 draw with Slovakia and 11-0 hammering of Georgia,)

This bid to reach a first-ever major tournament will ultimately boil down to a decisive double-header against the Finns (home) and Slovakia (away) in September, while they face a trip to Tbilisi in June.

But for now, the full focus is on tomorrow, against a side who hold a 100% record thus far in the campaign, with a sell-out 14,000 crowd expected.

“Spoiling the party for Sweden, we’re not busy with that at all,” Pauw told a pre-match press conference this evening. “At all. Because this is a massive game, and we have enough to face. If you get a result here, of course, that would be magic.”

A result. So you’d take a draw?

Yes, gladly, but captain Katie McCabe probably wants more.

“We don’t go out playing these games to lose,” the Arsenal star stressed. “You want to come over here and do our best. I’d be gutted if we lost.

“We know in a World Cup qualifying campaign, you win games and you need to get big results. It’s a massive game, but we also know what we’re capable of and we’ll be fully focused on the game plan going into tomorrow night — and giving 100%.”

“Let’s be realistic,” Pauw noted, before Ireland trained at the stadium again this evening. “Sweden are second in the ranking, Olympic finalists and arguably the best team in the world.

“We are ranked 30th so know what we’ll face tomorrow. We know they are a fantastic team, especially with all the players back in the squad. They are full strength and know what we’ll face.”

Ireland, meanwhile, will be forced into a reshuffle with injury woes in defence. 

Savannah McCarthy and Diane Caldwell, two regular candidates for the left side of the back three, are absent, while one option for cover, Megan Campbell, was forced out of the squad due to a knee setback.

Claire Walsh and Claire O’Riordan are among the candidates in line to fill the void, though Pauw won’t rule out a change in formation.

“We are missing those players of course. Everybody knows that. we need to find a solution and we will see tomorrow.

“But I am not a coach that is panicking for missing players because we need to do it with the players that are here. We have so much talent. Every player gives her all and will fight her way through the game. We will be ready tomorrow with the players we have.”

The Dutch boss also hinted at a possible goalkeeping change, with English-born recruit Megan Walsh hot on the heels of recent first-choice Courtney Brosnan. Walsh, who was drafted into the squad in recent months, has been consistently brilliant for Brighton & Hove Albion in the Women’s Super League, and impressed in green at the Pinatar Cup.

“Megan did fantastically in Spain and will grow into the starting line up position,” Pauw said.

That all her players are fit and available for selection gives her “a headache,” with five of the 28 to be left out of the matchday squad.

The Ireland boss added that last week’s warm-up game against an U15 boys’ team “gave us everything we needed,” before staying coy while offering her take on a successful outcome tomorrow night:

“If we give everything we can, and leave it all out on the pitch.”


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