Irish women must win in Montenegro to keep European qualification hopes intact

Ireland’s women’s soccer team cannot afford any slips in Montenegro today if they’re to keep alive their European qualification ambitions.

Montenegro, the group’s bottom side, held second-placed Finland to a narrow 1-0 victory in their opening game last September, but they’ve since shipped 13 goals over two heavy defeats against Spain and Portugal.

With Sue Ronan’s team facing Spain in Madrid on Tuesday, nothing but three points will suffice in Petrovac today (1pm) to complete the first half of the campaign in contention for qualification.

So far, defeats to Spain and Finland sandwiched a fine win in Portugal.

“Our aim is to get six points from the two matches,” said Ronan. 

“We’ve just had a three-day training camp in Vienna and the girls are in great condition.

“I look at my squad and the strength in it, the experience in it and, indeed, the desire in it. 

“It’s not going to be easy against Montenegro, but if we play as well as we can we should certainly win the game.”

Key to their plans will be the contribution of Denise O’Sullivan. The recently-crowned FAI Player of the Year has just clinched a move to Houston Dash and will cross the Atlantic following the internationals.

“One of my teammates, Carli Lloyd, is World Player of the Year, so it will be great training with them. 

“The level over in America is fantastic, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said the Cork player ahead of her 47th senior cap.

“We beat Finland in the last game of our Cyprus Cup tournament, whereas they’d won against us in the qualifiers. That win gives us confidence going into these qualifiers.”

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