Republic of Ireland need three points to keep faint World Cup hopes alive
Irish women’s team must beat Slovenia at Tallaght stadium tomorrow night
Republic of Ireland manager Sue Ronan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Having become the latest Republic of Ireland women’s squad member to venture overseas to pursue her career, France-based Stephanie Roche is aiming to add international success to her portfolio in the World Cup qualification run-in that starts tomorrow night.
Anything less than three points against basement side Slovenia at Tallaght Stadium will derail Ireland’s remote prospects of clinching a playoff spot for the finals, with two fixtures still to play.
As they trail second-placed Russia by five points, only a perfect finish to the campaign, coupled with a few slip-ups by the Russians, will shuttle Sue Ronan’s side into contention.
Dubliner Roche, recently recruited by French top division outfit ASPTT Albi, insists her Ireland squad must concentrate on seeing off a winless Slovenian side before they can contemplate featuring in the business end of the campaign.
“When we beat Slovenia 3-0 away in one of the early qualifiers, it was probably our best attacking display of the campaign,” she said.
“We’re coming into this qualifier in good form, having kept two clean sheets in the win over Croatia and draw in Russia, so we’ll have no problems once we keep playing as we have.
“There’s a lot of flair players in our squad now, with the likes of Julie-Ann Russell and Denise O’Sullivan, and we tend to create plenty of chances. The Tallaght crowd have been brilliant to us so far in the campaign and hopefully we give them a few goals tonight.”
The former Peamount United winger, who has started the last two qualifiers for Ireland, is enjoying the latest part of his career path in France.
“The French league is of a really high technical standard, which suits my style,” she said. “The season has only started and we’ll play Olympic Lyon and Paris St-Germain in back-to-back league games in October.
“While the only downside is the language barrier, I’ve started taking French lessons which has helped me overcome that.”
Ireland manager Sue Ronan has a full squad to choose from, with no injury concerns or players suspended.
Republic of Ireland (probable): Byrne (Arsenal); O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Fahey (Arsenal), Duggan (UCD Waves); Roche (ASPTT Albi), Gorman (UCD Waves); Littlejohn (Sandviken), D O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Russell (UCD Waves); F O’Sullivan (Notts County).