Ireland can't afford any more slip-ups when they host Georgia

A draw with Slovakia heaps the pressure on Vera Pauw's side for this 2023 Women's World Cup qualifier
Ireland can't afford any more slip-ups when they host Georgia

Megan Connolly of Republic of Ireland after her side conceded a goal against Slovakia. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

THE Republic of Ireland Women National Team’s objective of making it three wins in a row and earning six points out of six in this international break can’t be achieved following last Thursday’s draw with Slovakia.

But if they fail to defeat Georgia tonight - live on RTÉ2 with kick-off again set for 7pm - then their hopes of reaching the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand would almost be over.

“Georgia is a must-win – simple,” enthused manager Vera Pauw recently.

“We have to do better on Tuesday, we will do better on Tuesday, and it is a must-win game. Of course, we are disappointed (with the draw), we came for more. But on the other hand, if you’ve seen the game, we could have lost.

"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."

The Slovakians came to Tallaght Stadium, defended bravely, counter-attacked well, and were full credit for their 1-1 draw but Ireland need to be much better when the Georgians come to town on Tuesday.

There are just the 90 places separating the two nations in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings with Ireland higher placed in 33rd while Georgia lie in 123rd.

If the Girls in Green need any more reasons to be optimistic they only need to look at Georgia’s results in Group A so far as they were beaten 4-0 by Sweden, 3-0 by Finland although they were only defeated 2-0 in Slovakia.

With the Irish, on the other hand, only narrowly losing out to Sweden 1-0 before winning 2-1 against Finland and then drawing with Slovakia as mentioned, then they should be looking at following the example of their rivals by recording a similar margin of victory over the side currently bottom of the standings.

But sport, and football, in particular, doesn’t often follow such logic so if Ireland are to get the victory as expected, they will need to remain professional.

Cork’s Denise O’Sullivan and Megan Connolly will likely have an important role to play in controlling the tempo in midfield while if the game is going well it could be an opportunity for Saoirse Noonan and Éabha O’Mahony to get more minutes.

But the main thing is that Ireland keep their qualification campaign alive with three points, which could see them rise to second.

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