Russia and Kazakhstan trip key to World Cup qualification
Noel King's side currently sit in 3rd place in the table following their 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan in Cork in September after an opening day 2-0 defeat at the hands of Switzerland in Wohlen and Byrne says that a defeat would leave them with a mountain to climb should they have any chance of topping group 6.
"At this stage, defeat in Russia is an unthinkable outcome. We have been improving steadily for the past number of years and this game against the top seeds is set to be the pinnacle game of the group if we are to put our qualification destiny into our own hands. The team were bitterly disappointed with the opening defeat to Switzerland. With all of the preparation that went into the 10 week training camp in America, we just did not perform to the best of our abilities on the day and it is now up to us to recover and get back into contention in the group," said Byrne.
"Russia were in our group for the 2007 World Cup qualifiers when we were comprehensively beaten 5-1 and 2-0 respectively. However, at that stage we were a developing side and since then, a huge amount of work has gone into the technical side of our game which showed in the last UEFA Championship campaign when we were 90 minutes away from qualifying for the finals."
Speaking about the trip to Taldykorgan in Kazakhstan, Byrne said, "On the back of a difficult test in Russia, followed by a mammoth trip to Eastern Kazakhstan, preparation is going to be vital against this battling Kazakhstan side. We were lucky to beat them 2-1 in Turners Cross last month, we completely dominated the game from start to finish and scored an early goal through Fiona O'Sullivan but they got a spectacularly lucky goal from around 40 yards out which dropped in under my head and we were glad to see Stephanie Roche blasting in from close range in injury time to share any blushes on the night. There are no easy games in international football so we will approach the Kazakhstan game with great caution but expectant of a positive result," added Byrne.
FIFA Women's World Cup - Group 6 qualifying fixtures
Sunday, October 25th
Russia v Republic of Ireland
Rossiyanka Stadium, Krasnoarmeysk
Kick-off: 15.30 (local time)
Thursday, October 29th
Kazakhstan v Republic of Ireland
Stadium Jetisy, Taldykorgan
Kick-off: 14.00 (local time)
Republic of Ireland squad
Emma Byrne - Arsenal
Niamh Fahey - Arsenal
Mary T McDonnell - Chicago Red Stars
Ciara Grant - Arsenal
Stefanie Curtis - Bristol Rovers
Yvonne Tracy - Arsenal
Jemma Connor - Birmingham
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 - Jesery Sky Blue
Kate Taylor - St. Catherines
Marie Curtin - Lifford
Lynn Bradley - Raheny United
Stephanie Roche - Raheny United
Julie Anne Russell - Salthill Devon