UEFA Euro 2021 Qualifier Preview: Ukraine -v- Republic of Ireland

Fri, Oct 23 2020

UKRAINE

It’s crunch time for Ukraine as anything but a win will end their chances of qualifying for the European Championships in England next summer (kick-off 5pm Irish time).

The home side sit seven points behind second-placed Ireland with three games remaining and need a minimum of seven points, including a win on Friday, to clinch second.

Ukraine have won just two of their five games to date, against Greece and Montenegro, and have already lost twice to Germany and once to Ireland at Tallaght Stadium.

Natalia Zinchenko’s preparations have been hampered by positive Covid-19 tests for two of her original selection: Kateryna Korsun and goalkeeper Kateryna Samson.

They have been replaced by uncapped pair Anastasia Voronina of Zhytlobud-1 and Voskhod’s Alla Gerasymchuk.

“To prepare for the match with the British, we are going to Kyiv,” said a geographically-challenged Zinchenko.

“All attention is focused on the next confrontation with the Irish, and we will think about the Greeks later.

“We have videos of the opponent's last matches, and I also know that before leaving for Kyiv, 30 players were called to the training camp, many of whom play abroad.

“The Irish impress with their physical data. It is no coincidence that their strength is set-pieces, where they feel good in the fight for high balls.

“But I am convinced that during the training we will be lucky enough to determine the weaknesses of this team.”

As well as Korsun and Samson, Roksolana Kravchuk was left out due to injury but Natia Pantsulaya returns after missing last month’s win over Greece with suspension.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

The Republic of Ireland go into the game in Kyiv knowing a draw will be enough to secure second place and at least a play-off for a place in the Euros.

Vera Pauw’s side suffered their first defeat of the campaign away to table-toppers Germany last month, which ended their chances of finishing first.

The top three runners-up will qualify automatically for the finals while the six other sides will play off for the three remaining spots.

First-half strikes from Marina Hegering, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Lea Schuller saw the Germans to a comfortable win in Essen to seal their spot in the finals in England.

Pauw will have been heartened by a much more competitive second half against one of the world’s top teams and will look to take those lessons into Friday’s game.

Ireland came out the right side of a five-goal thriller in Dublin last October thanks to goals from Rianna Jarrett and Katie McCabe and an own goal.

"We have prepared really well for this game and we will be ready on Friday for what will be a huge occasion for women's football in Ireland,” said Pauw.

“A draw would secure a play-off but we know that we will not be given anything, we will have to fight for it.

"We are aware of reports of COVID cases in the Ukraine squad, but we are just focused on ourselves and following all of the right protocols.

"The qualifying campaign has gone well so far for us and we have improved along the way, however this is now when it matters most.

“We need to get a positive outcome from Friday's game to keep the dream alive of qualifying for the European Championships in 2022."

Pauw has a full squad to choose from after everybody came through Covid-19 testing on Monday and Wednesday with negative results.

Referee: Ivana Martincic (Croatia).

MATCH STATS

This is just the second time the national teams of Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland have met, following last October’s qualifier in Dublin.

Ireland ran out 3-2 winners on that occasion as Rianna Jarrett and Katie McCabe found the target early on.

Goals from Lyubov Shmatko and Olha Ovdiychuk pegged it back to 2-2 at half time before Shmatko turned through her own net in the second half.

BETTING

Ukraine 8/5; Draw 12/5; Republic of Ireland 6/5.

PREDICTION

Ukraine 2 – 1 Republic of Ireland

Ukraine

Injured: Kateryna Korsun, Roksolana Kravchuk, Kateryna Samson.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Republic of Ireland

Injured: None.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

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