FIFA World Cup 2019 Qualifier Preview: Republic of Ireland -v- Northern Ireland

Fri, Aug 31 2018

Ireland's last home game ended in a 2-0 defeat to Norway. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

The Republic of Ireland have only pride to play for as they welcome Northern Ireland to Tallaght for their final World Cup qualifying fixture (kick-off 5.30pm, live on RTE2).

The Girls in Green will finish third in the group regardless of the result as they sit five points behind Norway and seven points ahead of tonight's opponents.

Qualification began brilliantly for Ireland, and they were joint top after six games, but they've lost the last three without scoring a goal.

A much-improved performance in Stavanager last time out saw them run out narrow 1-0 losers to Norway, with an early penalty from Caroline Graham Hansen the difference.

Colin Bell's side will now look to end the qualifiers on a high as they look ahead to the draw for the Euro 2021 qualifiers in February.

"We know what we need to get done,” said striker Rianna Jarrett.

“We're looking to get a vital win. You can't look past your next game and tomorrow will be our biggest game, it's the final game of the campaign so we need to see it out properly.

"The campaign has been successful but with areas we can and need to improve.

“The improvement across the team over the last year has been huge and had a fantastic impact on the women's game in Ireland.

"We're competing with the top teams which probably hasn't happened before.

“The draw against the Netherlands shows that and I thought we were really unlucky in the two games against Norway.”

Ireland were 2-0 winners over Northern Ireland in Lurgan at the beginning of the campaign thanks to a goal from Megan Campbell and an own goal.

Campbell is one of three players from the starting line-up that day missing from the squad through injrury, however own goal may make another appearance.

"They've got a number of different players in their squad since the last result, a lot like us really,” said Jarrett.

“We've got a number of players in the squad who've really come through in the last year so tomorrow's game will be completely different.”

Bell has a full squad to choose from, with no injuries to the players selected or suspensions.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland will look to finish their campaign on the high as they play the first of two back-to-back games.

They face Slovakia – the only team they've beaten to date – on Tuesday but first must travel down the M1 to face Colin Bell's Ireland.

The North were soundly beaten 5-0 by the Netherlands at Shamrock Park in Portadown last time out, and like Ireland are scoreless in their last three games.

"It's amazing to be back as this is what as a player you look forward to playing on the biggest stage,” said striker Lauren Wade, who returns following a stint in the USA.

"This week has been good, the preparations have been good, and we are here for our last training session ahead of tomorrow and we are all excited."

 

Referee: Angelika Soder (Germany)

 

MATCH STATS

The sides' previous meeting in this campaign saw Colin Bell's side run out deserved 2-0 winners in Lurgan.

An own-goal from Rachel Furness put Ireland in front in first-half injury time before Megan Campbell wrapped it up with a speculative second-half effort.

 

BETTING

Republic of Ireland 1/7; Draw 9/2; Northern Ireland 10/1.

PREDICTION

Republic of Ireland 2 – 0 Northern Ireland

 

Republic of Ireland

Injured: None.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Northern Ireland

Injured: None.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.