WOMEN’S FOOTBALL: Northern Ireland hope for some Dutch courage

Northern Ireland senior women's coach Alfie Wylie..
Northern Ireland senior women's coach Alfie Wylie..

Northern Ireland women host EURO 2017 winners the Netherlands at Shamrock Park tonight aiming to impress on the landmark occasion, writes Joshua Bunting.

Alfie Wylie’s side currently sit fourth in group three as they continue their qualification campaign for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

The last time out the teams met was in Eindhoven when the Dutch ran out 7-0 winners.

“We didn’t do ourselves justice, but we are realists,” said Wylie in a BBC interview. “As regards to our girls, can we keep the scoreline down?

“We want to make a match of it this time and really have a good go.

“This is the first time in women’s football that there has been reigning European champion coming to play a match in Northern Ireland.

Barcelona’s Lieke Martens, the current World Player of the Year, will be on show in Portadown alongside players based in England, as the visitors enter the tie the clear favourites.

But Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan insists her side will be confident going into the game.

“This time we’re at home and we’re more optimistic,” said Callaghan. “We’ve been working really hard and we feel like we’ve got a real plan.

“We will be playing a strong, defensive game because we don’t want them scoring and, hopefully, we can get something past them on the break.”

Kick-off will by 7.30 at Shamrock Park, with admission free.

l Crusaders Strikers will travel to take on Linfield Ladies in the semi-final of the Toals Bookmakers County Antrim Cup semi-final on Wednesday, June 20.

The draw, made at the Toals Bookmakers High Street, also paired Cliftonville Ladies with the lowest-ranked side in the competition, Carnmoney Ladies.

Carnmoney entered the tournament in the first round and have defeated Ballynahinch United and Ballymacash Ladies to reach the final four.

Linfield knocked out Chimney Corner and Ryan McConville’s Crusaders Strikers eased past Bangor Ladies, whilst Cliftonville saw off Lisburn Ladies.