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'My heart is fully with this team,' but Ireland boss Pauw undecided on future after Euro dream dies

It remains to be seen whether the Dutchwoman’s contract will be extended.

“THIS TEAM WILL be at the World Cup 2023 if the draw is not too hard,” declared Ireland boss Vera Pauw as her side’s Euro 2022 qualification bid came to an end after a 3-1 loss to all-conquering Germany tonight.

vera-pauw-before-the-game Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

She spoke a lot about their bright future as the bid to reach a first-ever major tournament goes on, but will the Dutchwoman be there with them? That’s the big question.

“This is not the moment to decide,” she answered.

“First, if the FAI wants me to extend my contract. Second, there is my private situation. I’ll go home, discuss it with my partner, Bert Van Lingen. I was crying and right now, of course yes [I want to continue], but I first need to rest.”

It would certainly be hard to walk away from it all, Pauw agreed.

That is for sure. The finishing line is now. I need to rest and get the emotions down. My heart is fully with this team, and we do things together. They are a fantastic bunch of tigers, a fantastic staff and those players and there is huge talent coming through with the youngsters. This team has a fantastic future.

“I’ve not spoken to the FAI. I need to know if they want to me and then I need to know about what time I need. We don’t even know when the draw will be for the World Cup. I need to go home and you will be the first to know.”

In August, the FAI announced that Pauw would remain in charge if qualification for the finals tournament in July 2022 is achieved.

But with that out of the question now, several players including Denise O’Sullivan and Louise Quinn have voiced their support for her contract to be extended.

And Pauw firmly believes that the FAI shares her vision. “I have never felt not. Every department is with us, not just by saying but doing. The charter to Kiev is a headline but also little things during the pandemic, the facilities in Castleknock, the kit.

“There is a holistic plan and then somebody takes over the administration of it, from the six-year-olds to coaching. Everything.”

“I’m not a coach who plays games,” she added when asked about the possibility of another nation looking for her services. “That is not in my decision. I am an open and honest coach. If someone calls me, I will be open with the FAI.”

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While her future remains in the air, the question arises about some of the more seasoned players in the set-up. She’s unaware of any retirements, noting that the mood after the final whistle summed it up.

The atmosphere in that dressing room, there is nobody who wants to step away from this. Really, everyone is so convinced.

“It was heartwarming and made me very emotional. I said inside that this team will be at a World Cup as I truly believe that. Regardless of whether I extend or not, we have made the plans already.”

And while accepting this campaign may have been an opportunity missed — “It’s heartbreaking for all of us” — Pauw shared her thoughts of the match as a whole — and her frustration with that German penalty decision.

“Who would have thought any team would have had the guts to end up with 1-4-2-4 against Germany. I don’t think there is one team that has grown like us during the pandemic. Having only seven games in 14 months and making such progress, we don’t know where the ceiling is.

We’re so proud of what we put on today. We could have collapsed after this penalty kick, let’s call it that. We need VAR. Schwab is a German word, it means diving. She did it. It’s not something you want in the game but the team did not collapse and that is what I’m proud of.

“I hope we made Ireland proud.”

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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