Irish women in good position to take edge over Russia
Manager Sue Ronan without Megan Campbell for crucial World Cup qualifier
After last month’s dramatic disappointment against Germany, the Irish women’s team will look to pick themselves by beating Russia in this evening’s World Cup qualifier (kick-off 7.30) in Tallaght where three points would give the hosts a significant edge over the main rivals for the group’s play-off spot.
A win tomorrow against Slovakia will move Germany to the brink of automatic qualification for the finals and so, while a win last time out would have been a hugely unexpected bonus, the 2-3 defeat against a side that put nine past the Russians was not nearly as damaging as a loss this time would be.
The visitors are higher seeds in the group and nine places higher in the world rankings (21 versus 30) but recent meetings have suggested there is not much at all between them and manager Sue Ronan believes the points are very much up for grabs.
“They have good players with a lot of experience,” she says, “so we’ll certainly respect them and I wouldn’t read too much into the nine-nil, Germany can do that to teams on their day. Russia can blow hot and cold a bit when they travel and we certainly wouldn’t fear them. We’ve trained hard and analysed Russia as much as we can and we know they’ll be tough but we’re looking forward to it.”
The Irish performance against Germany will certainly have added to confidence levels within a squad that has had a good season so far and a win here would put Ronan’s players in a strong position to be in second place in Group One after their two games in June, the second of which is the reverse tie against tonight’s opposition.
Ronan is likely to name a largely unchanged starting line up for the game although she has been hit by the loss of Megan Campbell whose remarkable throw-ins caused the nine-time European champions endless problems.
The defender misses out with a fractured bone in her foot and Ronan is expected to make one other change although the game has almost certainly come too soon for Arsenal’s Niamh Fahey who is almost fully fit again after more than a year out injured.