2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification

Republic of Ireland v Sweden, Tallaght Stadium, 7pm.

ONLINE

Live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.

TV

Watch live on RTÉ2 or RTÉ Player from 6.30pm.

WEATHER

Thursday will be a fresh day with sunny spells. There will be a few showers, mainly affecting parts of Connacht and Ulster with many other areas remaining dry for the day. Highest temperatures of 10 to 13 degrees in fresh northwest winds.

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Quiet confidence

If it wasn't for the postponement of the match against Georgia last month, Ireland's campaign would have been underway already.

And coming into September, Vera Pauw's side were on a long losing run, albeit by narrow margins and against top-20-in-the-world teams specifically selected to provide stern opposition in preparation for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers.

But things are looking up after an impressive 3-2 friendly win over major tournament regulars Australia on 21 September at Tallaght Stadium.

It was a timely boost as they return to the same venue for a daunting start to the qualification campaign against giants Sweden.

Pauw certainly feels the squad is learning from the recent fixtures against tough teams that have also included Iceland and Denmark.

"We do grow every single game. We're getting closer but we need to see Thursday if we’re ready for this level," she said this week as the Sweden game loomed.

Katie McCabe has been in outstanding form

And given that Thursday is the first staging post of a double header which will feature a trip next Tuesday to a Finland side likely to be the main obstacle for second place in the group, the current quiet confidence levels will be vital over the coming week.

Katie McCabe's form

The captain has been in superb form for Women's Super League table-toppers Arsenal this season, scoring three goals in five games - and lest we forget she is not a forward which makes her presence in the upper echelons of the scoring charts all the more impressive.

The variety and quality of the finishes have also been a standout feature, including long range chips and volleys, while she has also made Champions League appearances.

The versatile player is hoping to carry that momentum into the Sweden game: "It's been a great start to the season with Arsenal. We’ve had back-to-back games so it’s been a pretty tight schedule but any form I have I’ll be looking to bring that into the Ireland games in the coming week, and hopefully I can help the team get over the line."

Sweden pedigree needs little introduction

Only the United States are above Sweden in the current FIFA rankings and in July, Peter Gerhardsson's side stunned the reigning world champions 3-0 in the group stage of the Tokyo Olympics en route to claiming the silver medal where they lost the final to Canada on penalties.

That was only a couple of years after they finished third in the 2019 World Cup, not to mention that Sweden is a country that has qualified for every single World Cup, Olympics and European Championships in existence other than a pair of tournaments in 1991 and 1993 and usually making it to the latter stages.

The current squad is packed with players from across Europe's top clubs as well as vast experience among the spine of veterans in the shape of defender Nilla Fischer (189 caps) and Bayern Munich striker Sofia Jakobsson (128 caps). Captain Caroline Seger (a holder of a record 223 caps) misses out as she rehabs an injury however as she told Swedish outlet Aftonbladet.

Qualification has been par for the course so far for the group favourites before they kick-off in Tallaght with wins over Slovakia (0-1) and Georgia (4-0) last month adding to a run of 13 wins in 16 games without defeat in normal time since this time last year. There's no doubt they will provide as tough an opposition as Ireland can imagine.

Republic of Ireland Squad

Goalkeepers: Grace Moloney (Reading), Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Eve Badana (DLR Waves), Amanda Budden (Shelbourne)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Claire Walsh (Glasgow City), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC), Éabha O'Mahony (Boston College), Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Ciara Grant (Shelbourne), Aoibheann Clancy (Wexford Youths), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Katie McCabe (Arsenal)

Forwards: Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Rianna Jarrett (London City Lionesses), Heather Payne (Florida State University), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City)

Follow the Republic of Ireland v Sweden via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player, or listen to live radio commentary on RTÉ 2fm's Game On.