Kyra Carusa: ‘Being given the responsibility to captain the team in the Champions League is a privilege’.Mon, Nov 29 2021
Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium
The years of when there were a handful of Irish players playing in the Champions League seem a long time ago now but this season two Ireland internationals have gone head to head in Europe’s premium club competition.
When Arsenal travelled to Denmark earlier this month, the Irish captain Katie McCabe was playing for the Gunners while the opponents HB Koge were skippered by Ireland striker Kyra Carusa.
The 26-year-old forward the previous season had played a crucial part in helping her team win the Danish league, as Carusa finished top-scorer in the Danish Elitedivisionen with 18 goals.
“I love it,” said Carusa about her current Danish footballing adventure. “It is quite the experience so far. It's our debut (in the Champions League). Being given the responsibility to captain the team - a young team like that and a very, very good group - it's a privilege.
“I continue to remind our team that it is a privilege to be there, to be playing against the best attackers and the best defenders in the world. If anything, it kind of reminds myself to stay disciplined, to learn from every game, but also to continue to challenge these teams.
“(I want to) make them have to prove themselves as the best teams in the world to have to score on us. And I think that since our first game, we've only grown.”
Her team are in a difficult Champions League group and have struggled in the matches so far – losing 2-0 and 5-0 home and away to Barcelona, a 5-1 home defeat to Katie McCabe’s Arsenal and a 5-0 loss to Hoffenheim.
“We have a game against Hoffenheim when we get back, it's a home game so I'm excited for that.”
Before then the San Diego born striker, who qualifies for the Republic of Ireland through her grandparents, looks set to earn her fourth international cap in next Tuesday’s home 2023 World Cup qualifier against Georgia. Vera Pauw gave her a late run out in Ireland’s 1-1 draw last Thursday in Tallaght against Slovakia and with Heather Payne having returned to Tallahassee due to college commitments, Carusa may get a call from the start.
After last week’s home game Pauw noted that “Kyra Carusa came on (and did) well. She is a goalscorer. So we have options.” Carusa reckons she has done enough to earn the trust of her Head Coach for a place in the starting XI.
“I think that between these international camps, you do everything you can to stay fit, to stay healthy and to give yourself that opportunity to prove yourself at a club setting or in a Champions League setting, that you can be trusted and that you are someone who can take on that responsibility for that starting spot.
“I feel like I've done everything in my power to make sure that I can make that happen. I know that we have quite a group of girls here and quite a lot of talent, so I always respect whatever decision she [Pauw] and this coaching staff end up making.
“What I bring to the pitch is something that she is looking for - that Irish aggression and mentality, but also just being able to hold the ball, turn people and make things happen up top that wouldn't normally happen all the time, and just give our frontline a bit of versatility. Make a team have to be afraid of those runs that Heather [Payne] and Lucy [Quinn] and myself are able to make in the back areas.”
extratime.com asked Carusa about the benefit of having back-to-back games in Tallaght for these 2023 World Cup qualifiers. “Being home is everything; not to have to have travel on your legs. It's a big opportunity for us, I think it's a really, really good position for us in this next game. We're very happy about it. There's something special about Tallaght. It's also something difficult for other teams to have to face when they come here.
“Some people feel like it's a lot on you when you see Tallaght filled and you have so much to represent, but what an honour. Where else would you rather be, right? I feel something special when I'm called in and I'm given the opportunity to come into camp. I'm very, very happy to be here and very, very happy to have that pressure on my shoulders.”
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