Ireland could face Scotland at Hampden in World Cup qualifier

Vera Pauw's side drawn away to the winners of Scotland or Austria, though a victory in that game still might not guarantee them a World Cup place
Ireland could face Scotland at Hampden in World Cup qualifier

Denise O'Sullivan of Republic of Ireland in action against Magdalena Eriksson of Sweden. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Republic of Ireland Women's team will take on either Scotland or Austria in their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifying Play-Off next month.

Vera Pauw's squad, which includes Cork's Denise O'Sullivan, Megan Connolly and Saoirse Noonan, will be away to the winners of that round 1 tie on Tuesday, October 11. Both those nations are currently above Ireland in the FIFA world rankings, with the Irish sitting in 26th place below Austria in 20th and Scotland in 23rd.

Ireland went straight through to round 2, where they are the third-ranked team behind Switzerland and Iceland, thanks to their recent 1-0 victories against Finland and Slovakia with O’Sullivan and Connolly playing key roles.

From round 2, the two play-off winners with the highest ranking (based on results in the qualifying group stage against the sides ranked first, third, fourth, and fifth in their section, and round 2 play-offs) will qualify for the finals in Australia and New Zealand.

The remaining play-off winner will compete in the Inter-Confederation Play-Offs in New Zealand next February and Ireland will need to win their own game and either Switzerland or Iceland to slip up in order to avoid this.

TOUGH

Speaking about the draw, Ireland manager Vera Pauw admitted it will be a difficult task if they are to reach their first ever major tournament in Women’s football.

"This is a tough draw for us,” said Pauw.

“We know what is ahead of us in order to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, but it will be a difficult task. Our aim was always to qualify for next summer's tournament and that is what we are still fighting for.

"We know that Scotland and Austria are both very good teams, who are ranked above us.

“Austria were very impressive at the recent UEFA European Championships; they are well organised, physically strong, and have some very talented players. Scotland are a team that we know well, they are experienced and can cause problems for a team at any moment.

We will do everything that we can to be fully prepared to play against either opponent. We know that both teams will be strong, but we will be ready for our game on October 11.

"The dream to reach the World Cup is still very much in our hands. We have achieved a lot so far in this qualifying campaign, thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our players and staff.

“Our biggest strength is our togetherness as a group and that is what will hopefully help us get through this next challenge."

Ticket and match details will be confirmed in due course but there could be potential logistical issues should Ireland face Scotland at Hampden Park with Celtic hosting RB Leipzig in the Champions League on the same evening while Rangers welcome Liverpool to the Ibrox 24 hours later.

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