World Cup Warm-up Preview: Republic of Ireland -v- France
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Thursday’s game against France (kick-off 8pm) has very much been built up as a warm-up game for the Girls in Green’s first match of the World Cup when they take on Australia.
The tournament hosts are ranked tenth in the world so taking on France who are ranked five places higher than that will be a good test in a sold out Tallaght Stadium.
“This game was always the most important in our preparation for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023,” said Vera Pauw. “It was crucial that we secured a top level opponent who would give us the kind of challenge that we need to be familiar with going into the World Cup. France are an excellent team and we are looking forward to this challenge.
“Our preparation, to date, has been excellent. We now need to test ourselves in a high pressure game because we expect France to be physically strong, athletic, quick and superb in both attacking and defending. This is exactly why we chose to play against them, we must be ready for what the best teams will come at us with.
“This is also an important game for our fantastic fans as they will get the opportunity to cheer on the team and wish them well before we depart for the World Cup. I would encourage everyone who has secured a ticket to use it, you have a responsibility to fill that seat because there are so many fans who would take it up if you don’t. If you cannot make the game, make sure someone else does.”
The build-up to the game in the last two games has been dominated by the article in The Athletic on Vera Pauw that included allegations on how she dealt with players weight and her ‘aggressive’ behaviour towards players in certain instances.
The Ireland boss repudiated these allegations and those made in the previous NWSL report on her time coaching at Houston Dash.
“It’s the same story as in December,” said Pauw in Tallaght on the eve of the game as reported by the42.ie.
“It is something of a few anonymous players and how can you defend yourself against a lie? I’m afraid it will follow me during my life and that has been the agenda.
“This distraction, the timing of this is wrong. And the allegations are false.”
Possible team: Courtney Brosnan; Heather Payne, Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Diane Caldwell, Katie McCabe ©; Ruesha Littlejohn, Sinead Farrelly; Denise O’Sullivan, Kyra Carusa, Marissa Sheva
Ireland World Cup squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Grace Moloney (Reading), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Defenders: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Áine O'Gorman (Shamrock Rovers), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (Reading), Claire O’Riordan (Celtic), Chloe Mustaki (Bristol City), Izzy Atkinson (West Ham United)
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City), Sinead Farrelly (NY/NJ Gotham)
Forwards: Kyra Carusa (London City Lionesses), Amber Barrett (Standard Liege), Marissa Sheva (Washington Spirit), Abbie Larkin (Shamrock Rovers)
A tough task awaits the Girls in Green in Tallaght on Thursday when they welcome France to Dublin 24.
The French team had a perfect record of ten wins out of ten en-route to qualifying for the World Cup where they will begin and end their group games in Sydney, playing Jamaica and Panama, while their second game set for Brisbane against Brazil.
Les Bleues reached the semi-finals of last year’s Euros losing to Germany and made the quarter-finals in the last two World Cups and looked to have put the strife of unrest in the camp over the last few years behind them.
Controversial coach Corrine Diacre has departed with experienced manager Hervé Renard on board since March.
He twice won the men’s African Cup of Nations (with Zambia in 2012 and Ivory Coast in 2015).
His most recent jobs saw him qualify Morocco for the 2018 World Cup and managed Saudi Arabia at the recent World Cup where his team shocked Argentina early in the tournament defeating the eventual winners 2-1.
“When I take charge of a national team, I like us to be united,” said Renard speaking to FIFA.com after taking over Les Blues.
“United for the country, for the flag and for the national anthem.
“I want a tight-knit group, as football is a collective sport. Without unity we can't achieve anything – I insist on that all the time, and it’ll always be my guiding principle.
"No one can be outside this framework, and no one is above the national team.”
Referee: Kirsty Dowle (England)
France are undefeated since last October when they lost 3-0 in a friendly away to Sweden (who topped Ireland’s qualification group). Since then they have won five and drawn one match. This is their first game since last April when they won 2-1 against Canada (who Ireland face in their second group game).
France will have one further friendly ahead of the World Cup. They play hosts Australia in Melbourne next week.
This will be the tenth meeting between the teams. Ireland have lost eight times and drawn once with France – that was a scoreless friendly in Dalymount Park 45 years ago.
Ireland have only scored twice against France with Shamrock Rovers skipper Áine O’Gorman scoring the last goal in a 3-1 defeat in Turner’s Cross in a EURO qualifier a dozen years ago (when she was playing her club football with Doncaster Rovers Belles).
2-1 win for the visitors