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Pauw: 'This is a team that doesn’t fear anyone. Pressure is embraced'
Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw reacts to the 2023 World Cup draw in Auckland.

VERA PAUW ARRIVED at a meeting with Fifa and the other World Cup participants this morning and was introduced to the group as one of three debutant countries. It produced immediate goosebumps. 

Later the Republic of Ireland emerged in the middle of the draw. They must overcome Australia, Olympic gold medallists Canada and Nigeria next summer. 

First up, the co-hosts in Sydney. Pauw’s reaction? Thrilled. 

“How good is it that you can play the opening game against the host nation in a full stadium?” The Ireland manager says, speaking from Auckland. 

vera-pauw Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“In a country where half of the country has Irish backgrounds, maybe more. People are fighting at home because of the dilemma whether they will support Australia or they will support Ireland.

“Even if they support Australia they will be a little bit in their heart for us. 

“That is the most exciting you can get. On the other hand, we also have the Olympic champions in our group with Canada and the best team of Pot 4 in Nigeria.

“They are in Pot 4 because they play in Africa but they are much higher, they should have been higher ranked but they don’t get the points because they don’t play higher-ranked teams. It is a challenge.”

In more ways than one. After opening their campaign at Sydney Football stadium, Ireland will swap coasts and take on Canada at the Perth Oval. Then they jet back to Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium where they will face Nigeria.

The travel is considerable, but when asked if it is unfair, Pauw is typically levelheaded. 

“We are the only group that has that. That is unfair. We knew it ahead. They have not done it deliberately.

“There was one group that has to travel a lot also in the meeting this morning it was said they will have an extra day to clear the hotel. That is something we have to face, for the whole group. 

“We need to see do we create a home base and travel from that to the venue or we don’t take a base and we travel from venue to venue. Tonight we will put all the pros and cons on the line, decide and tell FIFA.”

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11 days ago Ireland made history at Hampden Park with victory over Scotland. Suddenly, the World Cup looms large. This team have a proven track record of delivering on the big stage and are keen to keep it going. 

“You need make sure you are ready for a task at a higher pressure and a higher level. That is the preparation programme we are going to set in. We have shown we were ready for Sweden at home.

“We were ready, Finland away. We were ready, Finland at home. We were ready, Sweden away. We were ready at Slovakia. The biggest final, Scotland away, we were ready. 

“This is a team if we prepare well they know exactly what they can expect from each other. We benefit from all our talents. 

“This is a team that doesn’t fear anyone. Pressure is embraced.” 

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