Denise O’Sullivan believes victory away to Ukraine on October 23 is well within the capabilities of her Ireland team.
A draw in Kiev will ensure Vera Pawu’s Girls in Green cannot be caught for second place but three points would bolster their chance of reaching the 2022 Euros without the need for contesting a play-off.
Ireland suffered their first defeat of the campaign on Saturday when first-half goals earned a well-deserved 3-0 win for top seeds Germany but there was enough in the performance to keep O’Sullivan upbeat.
The Cork native recently joined Brighton and Hove Albion on loan from North Carolina Courage specifically to avoid any quarantine problems for the final lap of international qualifiers.
“We will travel to Ukraine looking for the three points,” asserted the 26-year-old.
“Since we beat them 3-2 in Tallaght last year, which was Vera’s first game, the squad has really grown. I never expected us to get anything from the Germany match.
“I’ve played against some top teams in the United States but Germany have incredible technical ability added to their pace and power. It seemed they had an overload of players on us all the way through Saturday’s game, giving the passer plenty of options. We got better at dealing with them in the second half and I think we can take positives into the Ukraine game.”
After making her Brighton debut off the bench in last week’s scoreless draw against Manchester City, this was another testing workout. “I felt absolutely wrecked after Saturday’s game,” she admitted.
“I hadn’t played a full 90 minutes for a few months but we’ve a busy period coming up. I made the move in asking Courage about going on loan. Being in the UK makes things much easier for travel.”
Pauw was impressed with how her players coped with the German threat, breaking from tradition by gathering them on the pitch at the end of the match.
She said: “I don’t normally do that after games. I was proud of how the players performed what for me is probably the best team in the world. We can still qualify for the finals and the players don’t need to be embarrassed from losing. As the coach of the Netherlands for the 2009 European finals, Germany beat us 6-0 in the run-up to the tournament.
“The only way to get used to that top level is by feeling that level. Our players used that experience to have a great tournament, losing narrowly to England in the semi-finals.
“With this Ireland team, they didn’t collapse after conceding three goals in the first half. An improved second half performance held Germany scoreless. That is something the squad should bring into the next game.”
GERMANY: M Frohms; K Hendrich, M Hegering, L Oberdorf, G Gwinn (L Maier 35); L Magull, D Marozsan (S Lohmann 80), M Leupolz (S Däbritz 63); S Huth, A Popp, L Schüller.
IRELAND: M Hourihan; D Caldwell, L Quinn, N Fahey, Á O’Gorman; M Connolly, R Littlejohn, D O’Sullivan; K McCabe, R Jarrett, L Kiernan (H Payne 63).
Referee: Monika Mularczyk (Poland).