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'This is unacceptable' - Pauw hits out at test results delay and reveals hopes to narrow Tallaght pitch

The Ireland boss criticised Uefa, as her side look to beat Germany and keep their Euro 2022 qualification dream alive.

Ireland boss Vera Pauw is hoping to steer her side to a huge upset.
Ireland boss Vera Pauw is hoping to steer her side to a huge upset.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER VERA Pauw has hit out at Uefa-mandated Covid-19 testing which could hamper preparations for tomorrow’s Euro 2022 qualifier showdown against Germany.

The Girls In Green welcome the all-conquering Group I winners to Tallaght Stadium [KO 5pm, live on RTÉ] and most likely need a win to secure a play-off spot — unless group minnows Montenegro shock second-place rivals Ukraine.

While Pauw’s side are going into this one against all odds, the task has been heightened by the delay in receiving test results, while Germany have theirs. And her frustration was clear as day in today’s pre-match press conference, labelling it as “unfair play”.

“I’m usually not taking out things to the press but now I would like to say something,” she began. “We did our last testing yesterday morning. If I have understood well, the samples went first to Northern Ireland, to Belfast, then to Birmingham on a flight, then by car to London.

“It should have arrived last night at nine o’clock and this morning we got a message that we only get results in the afternoon. This is unacceptable. It’s Uefa guidelines. Uefa has certain labs, I do understand that, but it’s not as if Ireland does not have labs and does not have very, very high qualified labs. 

“I do understand that Uefa needs to structure it but why do Germany already have their results and why do we need to wait until after our last training session? I think that this is something that Uefa really have to sort out.

“I usually never use the press for this but I find this unacceptable.”

Irish players and staff have undergone rigorous testing before and during camp, with Covid-19 protocols adhered to closely throughout. A positive case is unlikely but this uncertainty is seriously frustrating. 

It’s understood that the Ireland team’s latest results will be available shortly, with their pre-match training session moved to later this evening.

When pressed further on her difficulties with Uefa later in the interview, the Dutch boss explained:

“The issue is that the lab is so far away. Uefa has a lab on London but not one in Ireland or Northern Ireland. [Processing the tests in Ireland] would save a lot of time. There would be no chance that we only have the tests [results] after our training today so we we don’t know now, and will have to adapt if there are any positives.”

The fear now is that players will be lost at a very late stage if there are any positive cases, so? And a setback like that would further add to the injury blows to Leanne Kiernan and Megan Campbell.

“Yes, of course,” Pauw nodded. “You need to know that earlier. In Germany we tested earlier when we were there for the Ukraine game. We tested at one point and then four hours later, we had all our results and we knew who could fly and who could not fly. And that is logical.

“I do understand that Uefa cannot have labs everywhere, but Ireland, surely? Surely in Ireland there are enough labs that they could do it. But they are dealing with one company. And that company is doing all the tests of matchday minus two.

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“Every country, every club that’s playing internationally, they use this lab [company]. And that lab, there’s not a branch in Ireland. So that is the reason it’s going there but I think that there should be a solution for this because this is unfair competition. There is such a difference between countries. It is unfair play.”

vera-pauw Pauw and her players at Tallaght Stadium last year. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

While speaking of the height of the task that lies ahead, Pauw also revealed Ireland’s hopes to narrow the pitch of the “extremely wide” Tallaght Stadium by three metres.

Having played within the pitch dimensions of 68×105 in previous encounters, the plan is to reduce the width to the “normal” 65m should the Girls In Green’s request get the green light.

“What we are going to do, and we’re waiting for confirmation, is to bring the pitch size back to a normal size,” Pauw noted. “The pitch is very, very wide and we will bring it back to 65 metres, which is a normal size for the international game.

“It’s not a minimal size, it’s a normal size. We’re going to communicate that also with the Germans, we’re very open about it. It’s not like a trick but it is a realistic, normal action that we have. 

“It’s on very convincing talks with the players. They feel that that is what they need. We listen to the very strong feelings of the players. In the discussion with them, we decided it’s to go.”

As per Uefa ruling, “The pitch must measure 105 metres in length by 68 metres in breadth exactly,” or, “Minimum 100 metres to maximum 105 metres in length by minimum 64 metres to maximum 68 metres in breadth.”

While realistic about the game ahead with a monumental upset needed, Pauw outlined how Ireland must “not make it easier” for Germany, and that the narrowed pitch would help  that. 

“We need to stop them from scoring to be able to win,” she added. “But I hope that everybody realises that we have to score ourselves. It’s not only about stopping Germany scoring.

“We have players who can do something special. If it is enough to beat Germany, we will see after the game. We will make a good game of it, and we’re ready for it. They are up for it. They know what to do, and they’re completely ready and fearless to face Germany.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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