Colin Bell: 'We want to get to France and to do that, we have to knock one of these world class teams out'

Thu, May 03 2018

Republic of Ireland manager Colin Bell believes his side are still in the hunt for a spot at the World Cup next year despite suffering their first group defeat to the Netherlands last month.

Bell stressed that, even though there is still a lot of work to do he is confident his team and women’s football in general, the country is heading in the right direction.

“From the two matches, the Slovakia game was the biggest one for us as we needed the result against Slovakia,” Bell said.

“I think on a good day we can beat anybody, compete with anybody or at least get a good result against anybody but we also have to be realistic and I was very happy with Slovakia result and performance.

“I was still disappointed with result against Netherlands and mainly with the way we conceded.

“If we had conceded a goal in a different situation where they outplayed us you would accept that but the two goals we conceded were poor goals to concede from our perspective.

“But it was also a very good learning point for the girls around the point that if you make even just one mistake in such a crucial game and at such a high level you will get punished.”

Bell’s team are enjoying a very impressive qualifying campaign to date and currently sit in second place having secured ten points from a possible 15 to date.

The standout result from these games came against the European Champions towards the end of November when they took secured a hard fought away point.

This result coupled with home and away wins against Slovakia and a 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland leaves Ireland in a very promising position in the group.

there is still a lot of football to be played in the group, however, with a crucial June double header against top seeds Norway on the horizon for the squad.

“Norway are currently top seeds in the group and they’ve got some really classy players”, said Colin as he looked ahead to next month’s crucial Norway fixtures.

“Over the last few years they have been one of dominant teams in women’s football.

“Realistically, from the point of view of Holland and Norway in the group, these two teams have to qualify so our situation was that we have to try and get ourselves in between these two teams and create problems, and that is exactly what we are trying to do.

“When I first took over as head coach I said to the girls that I wanted us to be competitive and we are certainly competing.

“At the end of the day I want to get to France and I want to take all of my girls with me. To do that, we have to knock one of these world class teams out.”

With the team doing so well at the moment and putting so much into every performance once they cross that white line, the attention and exposure this team are getting is gathering serious pace.

A record attendance was set at the recent home qualifier against Netherlands in Tallaght Stadium.

The effort put in by the supporters and fans and the colour and excitement around the ground in the lead up to kick off was great to see and long may it continue.

Bell spoke about how much energy and confidence the girls took from such a great support between these two recent fixtures and has called for the same and more in the upcoming qualifier against Norway on June 8th in Tallaght Stadium.

“It was brilliant for the girls. We knew before the games that there was going to be a big crowd coming to the games.

“I put the question to the girls of would you rather play in front of a few thousand or scrape a few hundred and every one of the girls said they wanted to play in front of as many as possible.

“The reception that the crowd gave the girls was brilliant and we used it as extra motivation during the games and it gave them that extra bit of energy.

“It is that exact same support that we are looking for against Norway, to get as many people as possible into the stadium to get behind these girls because it’s what they deserve.”

Record crowds, second in the group and a head coach who is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to bring women’s football in this country to a whole new level in terms of participation, success, standards and exposure.

Bell is happy with the direction they are going in as a whole but also is well aware that there is an awful lot more to do to achieve his initial goals and ambitions.

With continued hard work and the commitment that everyone involved has shown to date there is no reason why these goals cannot be achieved.

“For sure, we are moving in the right direction and we are getting more exposure now which is great. We are trying to improve the standard of play and quality across the board.

“I saw Peamount v Galway at the weekend and I thought it was a very good game and the league is definetely moving in the right direction.

“In comparison to other nations we still have an awful lot of work to do, that’s not a critique it’s a challenge and it’s a good place to be involved with at the moment.

“I want to really try and do my best for the women’s game here so that when I’m not here down the line I can leave a legacy where I can really say I helped to secure the future of the women’s game here.”

Republic of Ireland managers Martin O'Neill and Colin Bell were speaking at the launch of the 2018 SportsDirect FAI Summer Soccer Schools. Bookings open now at www.summersoccerschools.ie