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'We are disappointed, we came for more. Georgia is a must win – simple'

Vera Pauw’s thoughts after Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Slovakia.

Vera Pauw during tonight's 1-1 draw.
Vera Pauw during tonight's 1-1 draw.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

TONIGHT’S 1-1 DRAW with Slovakia felt like two points dropped rather than a point won on the Republic of Ireland’s quest for World Cup qualification.

Vera Pauw accepted as much post-match; the manager saying that her side “has to do better” going forward — starting with the visit of Georgia on Tuesday, for which they’ll be without attacker Heather Payne, who must return to her US base of Flordia State University for exams.

Captain Katie McCabe scored a 65th-minute equaliser at Tallaght Stadium tonight, as the Girls In Green came from behind after Martina Surnovská’s opener early in the second half.

There’s no doubt about it: the result has left them with work to do in Group A and pegged back after their excellent away win in Finland, though Pauw stresses the outcome could have been worse against the lower-ranked Slovaks.

“Of course we are disappointed, we came for more,” she told the media afterwards. “But on the other hand, we could have lost the game.

“Somehow we couldn’t get a grip on the game, like I said to Tom [Elmes] my assistant, because they were so aggressive, in winning the ball, they were direct immediately going forward and we found it difficult to get our structure in and to get calmness in the game.

“In the first half, they did not create much but we couldn’t get forward in numbers. The main thing to do that was switching the play. We brought in some clips at halftime and it was better in the second half, although running out in the first minute they got the chance to score.

“And sometimes if someone is doing something that others do not expect, then you have to get over, shifting, and get out of position to fill that gap and that brings the openness in front of goal.”

In her TV interview with RTÉ, the Dutch coach hit out at “individual mistakes” — “If individuals are going forward and think they can run out of the organisation, this is what you get,” she said. “You cannot just do your own thing, you have to play your game plan with each other to keep that togetherness.”

While she wasn’t just as fiery with the written media, the Dutch coach did rue Ireland’s lack of composure in possession in the first half in particular.

“Under the high pressure we were not capable to keep the ball well and that is disappointing because you cannot play if you give the ball away too often and too easy. That was the key thing as to why we could not grip the game in our hands.”

“The last 20 minutes were very good,” she later added, explaining her switches. “The reason we put Jamie [Finn] outside is… Áine [O'Gorman] is very good defending, Jamie is better in her passing.

“We tried to get some composure there with Ruesha Littlejohn in the centre, and I think that worked really well. She had a great impact in the game immediately when she came on. The chances that we then created, we should have put in one.”

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While she praised Louise Quinn’s vital goal-line interception, she said the Birmingham City captain “should be smarter, and she knows that herself” having spurned an attacking opportunity late on by being offside.

Pauw noted that forward link-up play is “a work in progress” and “can be better” given the quality in the team; hailing the “outstanding again” Payne, and lively substitute Kyra Carusa.

“Everyone was trying everything they could. You need to have the guts to get there. We tried everything and later on, there were players who really threw themselves in front of everything. Overall, everybody has fought their hearts out to get the result.

“We know it could have gone both ways at certain moments. We have to do better on Tuesday, we will do better on Tuesday, and it is a must-win.”

“Georgia is a must win – simple,” she signed off, her focus already on the visit of Group A’s second seeds.

BTL 5

About the author:

Emma Duffy  / Reports from Tallaght Stadium.

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