Pauw's Ireland given late kick-off slot for World Cup play-off

Vera Pauw’s fears expressed last week about other nations holding the advantage in the convoluted World Cup playoff series haven’t come to pass as their game will kick-off after the other two.
Pauw's Ireland given late kick-off slot for World Cup play-off

ALL TO PLAY FOR: Manager Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland Women training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland should know exactly what they’ve to do to avoid another playoff by the time they take to the Hampden Park pitch next Tuesday.

Vera Pauw’s fears expressed last week about other nations holding the advantage in the convoluted World Cup playoff series haven’t come to pass as their game will kick-off after the other two.

While the other European playoffs between Portugal and Iceland, as well as Switzerland against Wales, begin at 6pm Irish time, the Glasgow clash is an 8pm kick-off.

Under Fifa’s complicated system, only two of the victors will qualify directly for next July’s World Cup.

The winner with the inferior record in the main qualifying, added to the outcome of Tuesday’s final, must enter another playoff in February, in New Zealand, the tournament co-host alongside Australia.

Should Iceland or Switzerland lose their playoffs – or only prevail through a penalty shoot-out – then Ireland will know that victory in normal or extra-time dodges them the detour down under.

That’s because they currently trail Switzerland (by two points) and Iceland (by one) in the standings used to determine the two winners.

Three points are on offer for the nation that wins next Tuesday within 120 minutes but one for a shootout, as Fifa classifies that result as a draw.

If teams end up level on points – in the case that Ireland win without penalties but Switzerland do – then the criteria expands to goal difference over the same span (eight qualifiers and the playoff final).

Ireland are three clear of Switzerland on goal difference and level with Iceland.

Were Pauw’s side to be unlucky one of three, they need not be too deflated.

Separating them for a place at the expanded 32-nation showpiece will be a one-off playoff in New Zealand against a team ranked lower in Fifa’s standings than their position of 26th.

The other nine teams at the intercontinental jamboree are Chinese Taipei, Chile, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Haiti, Panama, Cameroon and Senegal.

Ireland will face the winner of a semi-final between two of those participants.

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