Vera Pauw admits that Ireland’s women may have missed their best chance to shock the superpowers Sweden in the World Cup qualifying group.
While the Irish used this week’s friendly to finish third in the Pinatar Cup in Spain, the Swedes took the victory in the more prestigious Algarve Cup.
Ireland’s next mission is to try to subdue the Olympic silver medalists on April 12 in Gothenburg.
With a perfect record of five victories in qualifying, Sweden will most likely have a sixth of their trip to Georgia a few days earlier when they face Ireland in front of another large audience at Ullevi Arena. In fact, by beating Ireland, they may even be able to confirm the top spot and the automatic ticket to next year’s World Cup that night.
Ireland gave the Swedes a match in Tallaght in September last year and only lost to Louise Quinn’s unfortunate own goal, but Swedish inertia may have been attributed to fatigue, according to experienced coach Pauw. They had, just a month earlier, ended their Olympic campaign in Tokyo by losing a penalty shootout against Canada.
“Sweden is a team we could only take something from shortly after the Olympics when they were tired”, the Dutchman stated “Now they are fresh. We have to put our whole heart into the game for Ireland to try to stop playing their best game.
“From next week, we will focus on Sweden. They have some players coming back from injury, the most important being captain Caroline Seger. Stina Blackstenius will be in better shape at Arsenal while Fridolina Rolfö from Barcelona was injured but we are not sure how long she will miss. ”
Realistically, Ireland was never able to compete with Sweden, which is currently second in the world, for the top spot.
The goal is to secure his first second in 14 years, and the goal remains after defeating Finland in Helsinki in November last year. After their trip to Sweden, Ireland have another day off, in Georgia in June, before concluding with the vital double match in September, at home against Finland and away against Slovakia.
Beating Poland (2-1) and Wales (1-0) on both sides of a 1-0 loss to Russia was an encouraging week in Spain for Ireland. Young home-based players such as Jessica Ziu and Ellen Molloy made their mark while Brighton goalkeeper Megan Walsh showed enough of a series of saves against Russia to push for demands on Courtney Brosnan’s goalkeeper position.
“Players who came in reached the same level as the previous ones on the pitch,” Pauw said of Tyros.
“They grew up playing with boys at the elite center. Everyone can see how well Jessica Ziu is doing at the moment. She really takes another level because she grew up playing with boys. You can see she never gets panic.
“We will see if she starts against Sweden, but based on what she showed, she is ready for it.
“We’ll see if we choose Jessica or Aine O’Gorman, who have tremendous experience, but they are very close.” Pauw added: “We took a big step in dominating the match. Can we now do that for longer periods in the game? We not only hit the ball away under pressure – even if we do sometimes – but we can also play out from high pressure It is the next step in our development, a step needed to qualify for a major tournament. “