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Pauw still has concerns over Ireland's chemistry despite huge step to historic Euro qualification

‘The problem is that our players cannot fully relate to each other. FIFA removed two windows from our calendar to help the club game. Only by training and playing more games together can our team improve.’

Captain Katie McCabe and manager Vera Pauw.
Captain Katie McCabe and manager Vera Pauw.
Image: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

John Fallon reports from Budva

VERA PAUW INSISTS her Republic of Ireland side are still struggling to fuse as a unit despite taking another step towards reaching a first-ever major tournament.

The veteran Dutch coach took charge of her fourth game at the helm in Petrovac where Ireland recorded a 3-0 victory in Montenegro.  

Up against the bottom seeds of their European Championship group, Ireland failed to build on Diane Caldwell’s 12th minute opener in Petrovac, only putting the fixture beyond the minnows through late strikes from Katie McCabe and Denise O’Sullivan after Darija Djukic had been sent off with 25 minutes left.

Despite sitting top of the pool with three games remaining, Pauw’s satisfaction comes with reservations.

Even if Ukraine, as expected, drop points in their final five matches to guarantee Ireland the runner-up spot and a play-off for next year’s showpiece in England, the manager wants improvements.

the-ireland-team-huddle-after-winning The Ireland players embrace after another valuable victory. Source: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

She attributes the limited cohesion to the shrinking of the international calendar.

“We’re very much on track for qualification,” declared former Netherlands and Scotland supremo Pauw.

“Montenegro made it tough for us . The pitch was very narrow and they packed all their players behind the ball. However, our strategy from training of moving the ball didn’t translate into the pitch.

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“There were too many mistakes in possession. Composure is so important at the elite level of international football and we need to get better in that area.

“The problem is that our players cannot fully relate to each other. FIFA removed two windows from our calendar to help the club game. Only by training and playing more games together can our team improve.”

Captain Katie McCabe also spoke of building on this win for the trip to Germany on 11 April. Ireland then trek to second seeds Ukraine on 5 June before concluding with the top seeds and group favourites Germany on 22 September. They require one point to claim second place.

“We knew Montenegro would defend well and it was frustrating at times,” said Arsenal star McCabe.

“They put numbers behind the ball and we had to stick to our game-plan. We did well enough in the final third to get the ball in the box but we had to put away some of those chances.

“Set-pieces are a strong point of ours, so it was nice for score the first one to help us get the lead.

“It opened up a lot more in the second half and it was great to get the job done.”

About the author:

John Fallon

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