Republic of Ireland Women’s midfielder Dora Gorman is one of those who believes Ireland have a point to prove when they face Russia tomorrow afternoon in Krasnoarmeysk, some 60 kilometres outside Moscow.
Ireland were beaten 3-1 at Tallaght Stadium last month by the Russians, who are ranked nine places above them in the world rankings. And they need to win tomorrow’s game to keep the race for second place in Group 1, and a possible World Cup play-off spot, alive with three games to go.
Ireland go into the game trailing Russia by five points.
Gorman said: “If we get the win we will be right back in it. As the group has gone on we’ve seen that anybody can take points off anybody so definitely, with two points in it, anything can happen.
“We will go there with no pressure on us because everybody will expect Russia to win but given our performances in recent matches we will definitely be able to put it up to them and get back into the mix for second place.”
Denise O’Sullivan’s late winner last Saturday against Croatia at Tallaght Stadium has put the pep back in the step of the Irish girls and Gorman admitted that the mood in the camp is definitely a lot more upbeat.
She continued: “After the Russia match everybody was quite down. The mood in the camp was one of disappointment at how we played.
“Now, after the win over Croatia, the mood is better and everybody is looking forward to meeting Russia.”
“Obviously it was getting late in the game but throughout the game we had so much possession and we were on top. We knew at the start that Croatia were going to be hard to beat but we had the possession, we had the ball, but we weren’t just clinical enough in the final third.
“We knew if we kept going at it we would get that chance and thankfully it came in the last few minutes when Denise put it away.”
“It’s a significant game in the group in terms of pushing on and trying to gain second place which was objective from the beginning" - Sue Ronan
Gorman is one of four players in the Irish squad who have come through the ranks at Salthill Devon and she admits that the return to action last Saturday of one of that quartet, Niamh Fahey, following a long-term injury, was a huge boost to the side.
“She’s a few years older but always when I was playing she was the standard bearer.
"She is just such an amazing player and it gives the whole team a massive lift that she is back now. She is great to have around.”
The Russians’ response since their shock 9-0 defeat by Germany in their opening game of the qualifying campaign has impressed Ireland manager Sue Ronan as they have their five qualifying games since and also beat Norway at the Algarve Cup in March. She’s fully aware of the quality Sergey Lavrentyev has at his disposal.
Ronan said: “We could play our very best against the Russians and potentially not get anything out of the game because they are one of the top teams in the world.
“It’s a significant game in the group in terms of pushing on and trying to gain second place which was objective from the beginning.
“But I think anybody who saw the game in Dublin realises how good a team they are and how difficult it is going to be to get anything out of the game.
"We didn’t play particularly well that day, we had a poor first half, but the players are determined to put that right tomorrow and show that they are a good team.”
The Irish squad trained this afternoon in Moscow where the weather conditions were in complete contrast to the high temperatures back at home with a cold wind and cloudy sky ensuring that temperatures stayed low.
Bus Éireann Women’s National League Player of the Year Julie Ann Russell, who suffered a hand-injury on Saturday, was the only worry travelling over but she took a full part in training yesterday and will be fit for selection.
Republic of Ireland:
Goalkeepers: Emma Byrne (Arsenal), Niamh Reid-Burke (Raheny United).
Defenders: Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Meabh de Burca (Galway WFC), Louise Quinn (Eskilstuna United), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal). Karen Duggan (Peamount United), Mary Therese McDonnell (Unattached).
Midfielders: Ciara Grant (Raheny United), Dora Gorman (Peamount United), Shannon Smyth (Amazon Grimstad), Diane Caldwell (Avaldsnes).
Forwards: Fiona O’Sullivan (SC Frieburg), Denise O’Sullivan (Glasgow City), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Ruesha Littlejohn (Sandviken), Siobhan Killeen (Raheny United), Julie Ann Russell (Peamount United).