Kenny Sheils on upcoming friendlies in Spain: ‘This trip will give us ideal preparation for April's World Cup qualifiers'Sat, Jan 22 2022
Northern Ireland senior women’s side will play three international friendly matches in Spain next month.
Northern Ireland who are set to appear in their first major tournament in the summer – at EURO 2022 in England - are also using the games as warm-up for April’s World Cup qualifying games with Austria and England.
Kenny Shiels’ squad are set to take part in a 10-day training camp at the Marbella Football Centre on the Costa del Sol from 14 to 23 February.
And as part of the camp they will face Faroe Islands, Switzerland and Romania in friendlies at the Marbella venue, which is widely used for pre-season and training camps by the world’s top club sides and national teams.
Northern Ireland played the Faroe Islands as part of their Euro 2022 qualifying campaign winning 6-0 away and 5-1 at the National Stadium in Windsor Park sealing a playoff spot on that evening before beating Ukraine over two legs in the playoff.
The Swiss and the Romanians are both ranked higher in the world than Northern Ireland, who rose up the FIFA Coca-Cola Women’s Ranking a couple of places to 46th in the latest list, which was published last month.
Switzerland are ranked 17th while Romania sit 42nd as for Faroe Islands they are below Northern Ireland in 99th place.
Northern Ireland last met the Swiss in the Euro 2017 qualifying series, losing 4-0 in Switzerland after an 8-1 defeat at Mourneview Park in 2015.
However it’s now a stronger Northern Ireland side going into the game against a side who boast players such as Arsenal’s Lia Walti and Noelle Maritz as well as Aston Villa winger Alisha Lehmann.
The first game in Spain, against Faroe Islands, is scheduled to be played on Thursday 17 February with a 3pm kick-off UK time.
Game two will see Shiels’ side take on Switzerland on Sunday 20 February (11am start UK time).
The final match against the Romanian’s will be on Wednesday 23 February once again with an 11am kick off time.
Twenty two players have recently entered a seven month full-time training camp meaning the players who don’t play professionally in England or Scotland will become full-time players in the run-up to the tournament, which is being staged in England in July.
On the games Shiels’ said “We are really looking forward to these three games in Spain. It will provide us with a measurement of our programme and its progression.
“We are constantly trying to teach and learn from our time with the players. This trip will give us ideal preparation for April's World Cup qualifiers. Everything we do is to help the players prepare.
“During February we will look to step up our performance levels to ensure we reach maximum standards.”
The Northern Ireland manager will name his squad in early February for the three games.
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