King's troops head to Israel for must-win tie
The Republic of Ireland senior women's side resume their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a testing trip to Tel Aviv where they will face Israel on Sunday, March 21st.
Noel King's side currently sit in 3rd place in Group 6 of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers behind Switzerland and Russia after four games. The trip to Israel marks the last away tie of the campaign with three of the remaining matches against Switzerland, Russia and Israel to be played at home.
The Irish boss has not made any surprising changes to the squad which narrowly lost 2-1 to France in Richmond Park last month with Raheny's in-form striker, Stephanie Roche keeping her place following her three goals in the last four games. Also in the squad is San Francisco Storm attacker, Fiona O'Sullivan who returns from a controversial one-match suspension which she served for the game in Kazakhstan last October.
Speaking at the announcement, Irish manager, Noel King said, "From our point of view, this has to be classed as a must-win game if we are to continue to develop as a side.
"The Israelis are somewhat of an unknown quantity for us but I have watched some of their recent games on DVD and we can be assured of a typically dogged encounter from the home team. Switzerland travelled to Israel last October and they really struggled to break them down and only claimed the three points courtesy of an injury time goal," he said.
"Israel football players have long been recognised for the physicality and the discipline in their game; you only have to recall the tough battles that Brian Kerr faced when the senior team drew with them twice in the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers.
"Conscription in the army is a way of life for Israeli men and women and I think that this is an advantage for their overall sporting culture. It is a must win game for us and I have stuck by the players who were in the last squad because I am really happy with their recent performances. They are a group who are definitely moving in the right direction," said King.
"In my opinion, this is one of the toughest campaigns I have ever have had to endure in terms of the geographical locations of each of the countries.
"If you look at the teams in our group, the Switzerland trip was more like a home game compared to the far-reaches of Russia, Kazakhstan and Israel.
"We are lucky that we have such a good team working behind the scenes for us. From all areas of administration such as travel arrangements, kit and equipment and medical issues; all of our staff have been outstanding and have ensured that the players and management are allowed to concentrate on the football," he added.
FIFA World Cup -- Group 6 qualifier: Israel v Republic of Ireland: Ness Ziona, Israel, Sunday, March 21, Kick-off: 17.00 hrs (local time). Republic of Ireland: Emma Byrne (Arsenal): Niamh Fahey (Arsenal): Mary T McDonnell (Chicago Red Stars); Ciara Grant - Arsenal; Ciara McCormack (Kolbotn FC); Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal); Jemma Connor (Birmingham); Fiona O'Sullivan (San Francisco Storm); Aine O'Gorman (Stella Maris); Meabh de Burca (Salthill Devon); Shannon McDonnell (Chicago); Sonya Hughes (Tolka Rvrs); Michele O'Brien (Chicago); Lynn Bradley (Raheny Utd); Julie Ann Russell (Salthill Devon); Stephanie Roche (Raheny Utd).