Tough draw for Republic of Ireland
The national women’s soccer team handed difficult group for 2015 World Cup qualifiers
The Ireland Women’s team. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
"That's probably the toughest draw we could have got," said Ireland manager Sue Ronan who attended the draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon. "There was definitely a sigh of relief around the room when Germany were pulled out in Group 1 and Russia will also be very strong. Both teams have qualified for this summer's European Championships and Germany are ranked No.1 in Europe and No.2 in the world. It doesn't get any tougher than that."
Germany and Russia were also drawn in Ireland's group during qualifying for the 2007 FIFA World Cup. Germany beat Ireland 1-0 at home and then won 3-0 in Dublin while Russia won 5-1 at home and 2-0 in Ireland. Russia were also in Ireland's qualifying group for the 2011 FIFA World Cup where Ireland lost 3-0 away before holding the Russian to a 1-1 draw in Wexford.
Russia are ranked 13th in Europe and 22nd in the World while Ireland are 19th in Europe and 32nd in the World.
Of the other three teams in the group Ireland have only faced Croatia previously and last met them during qualifying for the 2005 European Championships, winning 8-1 at home and drawing 0-0 away. Croatia are the lowest seeded team in the group being ranked 63rd in the world and 33rd in Europe.
Slovakia, who were fourth seeds, have a world ranking of 44th and a European ranking of 27th while Slovenia are 60th in the world rankings and 31st in Europe.
The group matches will be played between September 21st, 2013 and September 17th, 2014 with the play-offs between October 25, 2014 and November 27, 2014 to determine the eight European qualifiers. The seven group winners will qualify automatically for the finals in Canada and the four runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their groups go into the play-offs for the remaining European spot.
The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup will take place from June 6th to July 5th, 2015, in Edmonton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver in Canada.
Group 1: Germany*, Russia*, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia
Group 2: Italy*, Spain*, Czech Republic, Romania, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Group 5: Norway*, Netherlands*, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Albania**
Group 7: France*, Finland*, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan
*Competing at UEFA Women's EURO 2013
**Qualified from preliminary round