The Republic of Ireland Women’s national football team begin their qualification campaign for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup when they host Sweden at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night.
The match will be played in front of a sold-out crowd that has been capped by Covid restrictions.
The winner of UEFA Group A will earn automatic qualification to the next Women’s World Cup while the team that finishes in second will enter into the play-offs if they are one of the three best runner-ups among all nine UEFA groups.
Ireland ended a seven-game losing streak in their most recent outing, beating Australia 3-2 in front of fans in Tallaght and will hope for a repeat of fortunes on Thursday evening.
Four of the six teams they faced in that dismal run currently occupy a place in the top 20 of FIFA’s World rankings.
Vera Pauw’s side will play their first game in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup qualification campaign and are the only side yet to play a game.
The Republic of Ireland were meant to have played Georgia in their opening Group A game last month but that was rescheduled until June 2022.
Sweden, on the other hand, sit first in the group with two wins from two against Georgia and Slovakia and are yet to concede.
The World number two national team will hope to earn their place at the upcoming World Cup and improve upon their third-place finish in 2019 and continue the form that earned them a silver medal at Tokyo 2020.
Ireland have never played at a World Cup and sit 33rd in the world, eight places behind Finland who are also in their group.
Captain Caroline Seger scored a brace in the Blue and Yellow’s last match, a 4-0 win over Georgia, and leads the way on the scoring charts in the group.
Three other goalscorers have found the net for the Swedes in the competition so far and Peter Gerhardsson’s team will be sure to give the Irish defence a headache.
“The target for us is to qualify,” Vera Pauw noted. “We fully understand how difficult our group is with four tough opponents in Sweden, Finland, Slovakia and Georgia.
“But we must believe in ourselves, work as hard as we can, and show the world that we are ready for this.
“Sweden are a fantastic team. They finished as runners-up in the Tokyo Olympics and are ranked second in the world.
“We know all about their quality but it is up to us – as a team collectively – to embrace this challenge. We hope that playing in front of our fantastic fans will also help us.
“I’ve said it so many times and every time I feel it in my bones: the Irish fans are really special!
“There is no doubt that they help to drive the team on during difficult periods and inspire them to keep working hard.
“It definitely had an impact in our win over Australia and I hope to experience the same again in front of a sold-out crowd.”
Republic of Ireland: Brosnan; Finn, Fahey, L. Quinn, McCarthy, O’Gorman; L.J. Quinn, O’Sullivan, Connolly, McCabe; Payne.
Subs: Walsh, Scott, Caldwell, Kiernan, Barrett, Maloney, Farrelly, Grant, Noonan, Clancy, McLaughlin, Badana.
Sweden: Lindahl; Glas, Ilestedt, Eriksson, Andersson; Bennison, Rolfo, Angeldal; Jakobsen, Blackstenius, Hurtig.
Subs: Kullberg, Fischer, Janogy, Rytting Kaneryd, Falk, Blomqvist, Olme, Curmark, Anvegard, Musovic, Schough, Rubensson.
Where To Watch
The game will kick-off at 7 pm and will be available to watch live on RTÉ 2, with coverage starting at 6:30 pm.