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Ireland to face Scotland or Austria in 2023 World Cup play-off

Vera Pauw’s side are set for a one-off away showdown on 11 October as their bid to reach a first major tournament hits new heights.

Ireland captain Katie McCabe and her side are set for a first-ever World Cup play-off.
Ireland captain Katie McCabe and her side are set for a first-ever World Cup play-off.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland will face Scotland or Austria away in their historic 2023 World Cup play-off next month.

Their opponents will host the one-off showdown on 11 October, as Ireland’s dream of reaching a first-ever major tournament in Australia and New Zealand next summer hits new heights.

Vera Pauw’s side learned their fate when the European play-off draw was made by Uefa this afternoon, the nine group runners-up pitted against one another.

The Girls In Green secured a first-round bye after rounding off their Group A qualifying campaign on a high this week, and now go head-to-head with the winners of the Scots and Austrians after they play in the first round on 6 October.

It’s a tough draw for Ireland, with both potential opponents higher in Fifa’s world rankings. Pauw’s side are currently 26th, with Scotland 23rd and Austria 20th.

The latter reached the quarter-finals of this summer’s Euros, bowing out to Germany but running champions England close on two occasions recently.

“This is a tough draw for us,” Pauw said. “We know what is ahead of us in order to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but it will be a difficult task. Our aim was always to qualify for next summer’s tournament and that is what we are still fighting for.

“We know that Scotland and Austria are both very good teams, who are ranked above us. Austria were very impressive at the recent UEFA European Championships; they are well organised, physically strong and have some very talented players. Scotland are a team that we know well, they are experienced and can cause problems for a team at any moment.

“We will do everything that we can to be fully prepared to play against either opponent. We know that both teams will be strong, but we will be ready for our game on October 11th.

“The dream to reach the World Cup is still very much in our hands. We have achieved a lot so far in this qualifying campaign, thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our players and staff. Our biggest strength is our togetherness as a group and that is what will hopefully help us get through this next challenge.”

Switzerland and Iceland also secured first-round byes as the top-three runners-up, and they face Wales/Bosnia and Herzegovina and Portugal/Belgium respectively.

Screen Shot 2022-09-08 at 22.30.57 Source: Uefa.

Should Ireland prevail, they would be one of three second-round winners. The two with the highest ranking (based on results in the qualifying group stage and Round Two play-offs) will qualify directly for next summer’s finals, while the other nation head to New Zealand for the inter-confederation play-offs in February.

The last three qualifying spots are on offer at that 10-team tournament.

This is Ireland’s first-ever World Cup play-off, the closest they’ve ever come to reaching a major tournament this stage of Euro 2009. They were defeated 4-1 on aggregate by Iceland back then.

2023 World Cup – European play-off draw

Round One 

6 October 

  • Scotland v Austria
  • Wales v Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Portugal v Belgium

Round Two 

11 October

  • Portugal/Belgium v Iceland 
  • Scotland/Austria v Ireland
  • Switzerland v Wales/Bosnia and Herzegovina

* side named first has home advantage, extra-time and penalties if score equal at full time.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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