King issues rallying call ahead of FIFA Women's World Cup
Republic of Ireland senior women's manager, Noel King will lead his team into the 2011 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign on Saturday against Switzerland in Wohlen and he has stressed that progress is key for side push should they push for qualification for their first ever final appearance.
Joining the Republic of Ireland in group 6 are, Russia, Switzerland, Israel and Kazakhstan. The winners of each group will progress to the play-offs on 11th/12th and 15th/16th September 2010, producing four qualifiers for the finals to joins the hosts and holders, Germany. The defeated sides will then compete in further play-offs for a chance to meet a team from the CONCACAF region for a further finals berth from 26th June until 17th July 2011.
The Republic of Ireland team have just returned from their USA training camp in Indiana and King said that his players will be eager to kick-off the campaign after a busy summer, "We are really looking forward to getting the World Cup qualifiers underway at this stage; so much time, energy and resources have gone into our preparation over our 10 weeks in Indiana which was a massive step for women's football in Ireland. The squads commitment so far has been second to none and I know there will be a little bit of trepidation among the girls before the opening game in Switzerland because there is so much at stake," said King.
"In 2006, we took part in our very first World Cup campaign against Switzerland after being promoted to the top flight of European football. We finished 4th in that group ahead of Switzerland so I think that this campaign will be an interesting challenge to see how we have developed as a nation since then. Switzerland are renowned for developing young players in their academies and I think that we have done well to match them stride for stride and are currently just one place behind them in the FIFA World Rankings. I have seen Switzerland in action against Scotland last week, they are a young developing team and while defeat in Wohlen would not spell disaster, it would make it more difficult for us to win the group."
"We have been making continuous progress over the last number of years and while our play-off appearance for the EURO 2009 finals against Iceland was a significant milestone, we still want to push on and challenge for top spot in the group. Even though Russia are the red-hot favourites to qualify from the group, a lot will depend on Switzerland and ourselves to take points of them. I was very impressed with the Russians at EURO 2009, despite the fact that they didn't win a game at the finals, they played attractive, attacking football which will be a huge threat against all of the teams in the group."
"Getting to women's World Cup finals and UEFA Championship finals is actually more difficult than in the men's game as there are only five places available for European teams at the finals in Germany in 2011. Even if we win the group, we still have to enter a play-off before we qualify for the finals. Against all the odds, we want to win this group. We have a fantastic squad of experienced players joined by some exciting young players. The game in Switzerland is key should we harbor ambitions of qualifying for the finals in 2011," added the Irish boss.
FIFA Women's World Cup Group 6 Fixtures
Switzerland v Republic of Ireland
September 19, 2009
Kick-off: 5pm (local time)
Republic of Ireland v Kazakhstan
September 24, 2009
Turners Cross, Cork
Republic of Ireland squad to face Switzerland/Kazakhstan
Emma Byrne - Arsenal
Niamh Fahey - Arsenal
Mary T McDonnell - Chicago Red Stars
Ciara Grant - Arsenal
Stefanie Curtis - Bristol Rovers
Yvonne Treacy - Arsenal
Jemma Connor - Chelsea
Fiona O'Sullivan - San Francisco Storm
Aine O'Gorman - Stella Maris
Meabh de Burca - Salthill Devon
Shannon McDonnell - Chicago
Sonya Hughes - Tolka Rovers
Michele O'Brien - Jersey Sky Blue
Alisha Moran - New York Athletic
Marie Curtin - Lifford
Lynn Bradley - Raheny United
Diane Caldwell - Dundalk
Stephanie Roche - Raheny United