FIFA World Cup 2019 Qualifier Preview: Republic of Ireland Women -v- Slovakia WomenFri, Apr 06 2018
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The Republic of Ireland will go top of World Cup qualifying Group C – for two hours at least – should they manage a positive result against Slovakia at Tallaght Stadium (kick-off 5pm).
The Girls in Green are currently level on points – seven – with the Netherlands at the top of the table but trail due to inferior goal difference.
With the Netherlands hosting Northern Ireland later tonight, a win is a requirement for Colin Bell's side to keep pace with the European Champions.
Maiden City striker Tyler Toland and Peamount United Claire Walsh are the latest casualties for an injury-hit squad also missing Steph Roche, Megan Campbell and Harriet Scott.
Shelbourne defender Niamh Prior was called up in place of Walsh earlier in the week, and Bell feels there is enough quality in the squad to cope with key absences.
"We've been challenged at every stage of the campaign,” said Bell.
“We had Aine and Steph injured during the first game of the campaign and then Megan was injured after the Slovakia win.
"Add Harriet, Heather, Claire and Tyler to that list and we're missing a number of players but I believe in the quality throughout my squad and they've proven they can adjust during the campaign.
"It is just another challenge for us to get through but the players have to take on that responsibility.
“We've got a lot of quality in the squad and I'm sure whoever comes into the team and represents their country tomorrow will be up for the challenge."
Slovakia arrive in Dublin without a single Group C point to their name from four games played, three points behind Northern Ireland.
The Slovaks took an early lead at home to Northern Ireland in November but eventually fell to a 3-1 defeat.
A month earlier, goals from Denise O'Sullivan and an own goal from Jana Vojtekova saw Ireland run out easy 2-0 winners in Senec.
Ivan Hucka has since Zsolt Pakusza as head coach, and the new manager has targeted getting points of any number on the board in Tallaght.
"We will try to get a point,” said Hucka..
“Every point is important in the ranking. “We would like to stay at least in the fourth performance basket, we do not want to fall below.
“Our goal will be shape and the strengthening of our confidence.”
Hucka is likely to restore player of the year Dominika Skovankova to her midfield role for the match after recent performances up front.
"We realize that our qualifying group is not developing well,” said Skovankova.
“We will enter into every next match by trying to score some points. This is already true for the duel in Dublin. We want to honor the qualification and do our best to prepare for the next qualifying round.”
Hucka has a clean bill of health and will be able to choose from all of his selected players.
Referee: Simona Ghisletta (Switzerland).
Ireland and Slovakia met twice in 2017, once in a friendly at Tallaght Stadium and once in Seneca in qualifying.
Steph Roche's penalty was enough to earn Ireland the win in Colin Bell's first home game, while Denise O'Sullivan and an own goal saw Ireland to a 2-0 win in Slovakia.
Republic of Ireland 4/11; Draw 11/4; Slovakia 11/2.
Republic of Ireland 2 – 0 Slovakia
Republic of Ireland
Injured: Tyler Toland, Claire Walsh.