Denise O'Sullivan and Megan Connolly have key roles for Ireland in Sweden

Vera Pauw's side are gearing up for a very difficult World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg
Denise O'Sullivan and Megan Connolly have key roles for Ireland in Sweden

Republic of Ireland goalscorers Megan Connolly, left, and Denise O'Sullivan celebrate following the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 qualifying group A match between Finland and Republic of Ireland at Helsinki Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

THE Republic of Ireland Women's National Team are currently preparing for a huge clash as they look to strengthen their bid to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Girls in Green lie second in Group A on seven points after four games but they face their toughest fixture of the entire qualification campaign as they travel to Gothenburg to take on Sweden on Tuesday evening with kick-off set for 5.30 pm.

The Swedes, who are ranked second in the FIFA World rankings, are well on course to reach the finals as they have a perfect record, winning all five of their matches while scoring 11 goals and conceding just once in the process.

An unfortunate own goal from Louise Quinn shortly before half time was the only difference between these two sides in their meeting at Tallaght Stadium back at the end of October.

But Ireland manager Vera Pauw recently told reporters that her squad of players can expect a much tougher test this time around.

Of course, it is going to be hard. It is not like we want to sit back but I am afraid that Sweden is going to push us back in the game.

“When there is such a gap in the rankings and Sweden are number two in the world at this moment, then the only way to approach it is to realise the resistance we will face.

Cork City's Eabha O'Mahony celebrates a goal against Athlone Town. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City's Eabha O'Mahony celebrates a goal against Athlone Town. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“What this team has is they never collapse. We have come back so often after a setback. This team will be strong. That is the key thing to get you qualifying — that you never collapse, no matter what happens.

“If we would have collapsed from the own goal, it could have been 5-0 at home. But we didn’t. That’s a whole process, which we work on very much, what to do when you have a setback.

“That will be about having the pressure we will face, so that we will be ready for the tasks and able to perform within teamwork. 

"That’s the only way you can prepare yourself."

The Irish squad reported for camp on Tuesday and began preparations at the FAI National Training Centre before flying to Gothenburg on Saturday ahead of the game.

Initially, the only representatives from Cork were Megan Connolly and Denise O’Sullivan - both of whom are likely to start as they often do - as Saoirse Noonan is still on the road to recovery from her injury.

But Noonan’s former Cork City teammate Éabha O’Mahony has since been called up after previously being listed on standby.

This will be the Republic’s only competitive fixture of this international window but in the lead up to their meeting against a World Class Swedish side, they will play a friendly against an U15 boys team.

They will need to be very prepared. Sweden on their day can tear apart any team in world football and Ireland needs to maintain their recently earned high level of confidence for their more winnable qualifiers against Georgia, Finland, and Slovakia later this year.

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