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Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE The Irish team (file pic).
# Ready to go
Ireland confirm upcoming Morocco friendly to start World Cup preparations
Vera Pauw’s side will face their next opponents as part of a training camp in Spain.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 3rd 2022, 12:05 PM

THE IRISH WOMEN’S team are set to play a friendly with Morocco as part of their 2023 World Cup preparations.

The match will take place on 14 November (kick-off: 5pm, Irish time) as part of an upcoming training camp in Spain.

The eight-day get-together sees the squad link up in Marbella on 7 November

“It has been a challenge to find an opponent at such short notice but we are really pleased that we can confirm this training camp in Marbella followed by a game against Morocco which will represent an ideal test as we begin our World Cup preparations,” manager Vera Pauw said.

“While we would have liked to play in front of our fans, it has not been possible to find a suitable opponent for a home fixture so we will have to wait until next year to thank our fans for their unbelievable support that helped us to achieve qualification to our first-ever World Cup.

“We have international windows in February, April and June next year to continue our preparations for the World Cup and we are busy working on our plans around those dates. But, right now, we want to make the most of this camp which gives us the opportunity to see all of our players playing under the type of pressure that you only get in international football.”

The Irish team will face Morocco in a behind-closed-doors game initially, before the full international friendly, with the latter set to be broadcast but details yet to be confirmed.

It will be the first-ever meeting at senior women’s level between Ireland and Morocco, who have also qualified for the World Cup and are paired in a group with Colombia, Germany and South Korea.

Pauw is due to announce her squad tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a Women’s Nations League will begin next year, Uefa has announced.

The competition, which will link into qualification for the European Championship and the World Cup, will start in autumn 2023, European football’s governing body said.

As with the men’s Nations League, countries will be divided into leagues based on their ranking, with promotion and relegation between the leagues. Uefa confirmed there would be three tiers with teams playing in groups of three or four within those tiers.

It’s something Pauw has been critical of in the past. Speaking in August, the Ireland manager said she feared it would be “detrimental” to the development of the women’s game – and could result in it being “virtually impossible” for the Girls In Green to qualify going forward.

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“I said this summer that we would continue to invest in women’s football, and we are,” Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said today.

“Off the back of a historic Uefa Women’s EURO, it is now time to further develop women’s national team football. We have built an open, competitive, and continuous system in which every match will matter, a true reflection of the European sports model.

“I am convinced that this format will help all European national associations and keep the dream of qualifying for a major international tournament alive.”

Proposals for a revamp of the women’s national team competitions, including the introduction of a Nations League, were presented to member associations by a working group in Frankfurt last month ahead of the qualifying draw for the men’s Euro in 2024.

The new formats were officially ratified by Uefa’s ruling executive committee on Wednesday.

The men’s Nations League was first played in 2018, with the idea that it would provide more meaningful and competitive matches to replace international friendlies.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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