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Dublin: 9°C Thursday 25 February 2021

'Everybody, please come. We need that stadium packed. Ireland needs you'

Vera Pauw’s Ireland are eyeing a ‘positive result’ in tomorrow night’s crunch Euro 2021 qualifier against Ukraine, with a record attendance on the cards.

IRELAND MANAGER VERA Pauw has pleaded with those with tickets to make sure they come through the gates at Tallaght Stadium tomorrow night, with a record-breaking attendance on the cards for the crucial Euro 2021 qualifier against Ukraine. 

vera-pauw-and-katie-mccabe Ireland manager Vera Pauw and captain Katie McCabe at a press conference today. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

All 8,000 tickets have been sold or claimed by FAI season ticket holders and a waiting list is now in operation for the fixture [KO 7.30pm], which is shaping up to be a sell-out.

The current record of 4,047 was set when Ireland hosted the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier in April 2018.

After a campaign-opening 2-0 win over Montenegro last month and with Germany comfortably top of Group I, tomorrow night’s meeting with second seeds Ukraine is crucial for the Girls In Green.

“The stadium is sold out,” Dutch coach Pauw, who was appointed as Colin Bell’s succesor after the Montenegro clash and now takes charge of her first competitive fixture, said in a press conference this morning. 

“There is heavy wind tomorrow; that means that you might maybe hesitate, ‘Will I go out with my children?’ Please come. Everybody, please come. If you decide not to come, make sure you hand in your ticket and get others to come.

We need that stadium packed. There will be moments that we’re under pressure. Ireland needs you. Hopefully everybody will take that responsibility. If you have tickets, there’s plenty of people who want to come that cannot come because it’s sold out.

“If you for whatever reason choose not to come, please make sure that the ticket is available for somebody else.”

And captain Katie McCabe echoed her manager’s sentiments when the potential record attendance was first brought up, after the FAI confirmed that all 8,000 tickets have seen sold or claimed on Friday night.

“It’s fantastic,” the Dubliner, who plies her trade with Arsenal, said, adding later that the crowd doesn’t bring any extra pressure. “The FAI and the 20×20 campaign are doing all they can to get it sold out.

Obviously when we got the news as players and staff, we were ecstatic to see that. For us, it’s important to let the fans know how important they are to us in getting us over the line.

“It is sold out so for us, it is every ticket counts to make sure people are coming and seeing us, supporting us and getting behind us.”

Ukraine come to town off the back of two heavy defeats to Germany — 8-0 at home and away — and while the Germans also beat Montenegro 10-0 in their opener as opposed to Ireland’s 2-0 result against the group minnows, tomorrow night is hugely important for the hosts.

“Tomorrow, it’s about getting a result,” Pauw insisted. “That could be that we decide during the game that a draw is a result. But we start off that we are going for a win, we’ll always do that.”

katie-mccabe McCabe at FAI HQ this morning. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

And McCabe agreed that while a win on home soil is the target, that plan could change:

“We’re going to be doing everything we can to get the win but as Vera said given the nature of the game, maybe the draw could be the result we need to go for. We set out to get the best out of the game which is obviously the win.

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“As players, we’re happy with how training has went. We’re really enjoying the sessions under Vera, and are playing to our strengths and I think that’s the most important.

It’s been terrific. We know how Vera wants to bring us forward and myself and the girls are really eager to get going tomorrow night.

Although Pauw won’t choose her team until after their final training session this afternoon with “one or two doubts” to consider, the 56-year-old has been really impressed with the set-up in through her first camp in charge.

With Women’s National League stalwart, Eileen Gleeson, as her assistant and fellow Dutch native Jan Willem Ede taking up the position of goalkeeping coach, all has gone to plan so far.

“Training went really, really well,” Pauw, who has also coached Scotland and the Netherlands, and also worked with Russia and South Africa, said.

“I’m very impressed by the organisation and the staff. It’s the most professional staff I’ve ever started with. I’ve never had a situation where everything was organised, everything went smooth, everything was clear.

It’s been a very, very good start in that sense. On the pitch we’ve been working on several aspects. I think we are very well on track with what you can do in a week. 

“We’ve been working on more purposeful possessional play, that our passes have a meaning,” she added, keen not to give too much away to tomorrow night’s opposition, “that leads to a more pressure forward.

“Irish culture is the main strength. They’re all fighters and all going for 100%, that’s the core strength of this team. We have identified that we have a few very creative players, and a few very disciplined players. We are setting up in a way that we get the strength out of each player.”

McCabe stressed that “we’ll do everything we can to get the result,” before Pauw concluded on the group’s state of play:

louise-quinn-celebrates-with-fans-after-the-game Louise Quinn with fans after that win over Montenegro. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“The group has developed in the way that you’d expect. Germany is by far the best team. They are eight-time European champions, two-time World champions. You can see that they are on the rise again.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the games against Ukraine but it’s very diverse play with a domination that is very specific.

“It’s about that second place, let’s be honest. Let’s be realistic. We will do everything we can against Germany but the realistic situation is that we’re fighting for second place.

Second place means that we must have a positive result between us and Ukraine. That means that we many not lose. We may not lose.

“If it’s a situation that we need to go for a draw, we will do that. We have the away game in between the two Germany games, by then we’ll know more. Especially because we’ve lost two times, there’s some space there.

“We cannot lose tomorrow, and we will do everything to avoid that. And of course, we go for a win,” she concluded with a smile.

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Emma Duffy

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