Confidence key as Northern Ireland prepare for World Cup ‘exciting draw’

Northern Ireland senior women’s team manager Kenny Shiels counts confidence as key following a 2023 World Cup qualifying draw that features England, Austria, North Macedonia, Latvia and Luxembourg.

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 6:00 am

The draw was held in Switzerland for the European qualifiers of the international showpiece.

“Because we have played England recently (in February’s friendly) we will not be afraid of them, and we will do everything we can to beat them,” said Shiels, who recently helped steer Northern Ireland to the EURO 2022 finals. “I feel we have a good chance of success in quite a lot of the games so it’s up to us to prepare in accordance with the opponent and I am sure we will able to do that.”

Northern Ireland team captain Marissa Callaghan described it as “an exciting draw”.

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Northern Ireland senior women's team manager Kenny Shiels. Pic by Pacemaker.

“You want to be playing against the best players in the world,” she said. “That’s why we play.

“We have to go in with the belief that we can qualify.

“Why else do you go into these tournaments?

“The girls are ready...we will give it our best shot.”

The winners of the nine European qualifying groups stand guaranteed a place in the finals hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with the play-offs offering three additional spots. Group runners-up enter October 2022 play-offs to settle two of the three openings, with the final slot following an inter-confederation showdown.

Qualifying fixtures will run across a full year from September.

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