Women’s EURO coming ‘too soon’ for Northern Ireland: Kenny Shiels

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Kenny Shiels has admitted that Northern Ireland’s presence at this summer’s Women’s EURO probably came too soon.

Shiels’ side booked their ticket to the tournament in England, which starts next month, with a play-off victory over Ukraine to seal their first qualification for a major event, but they are under no illusions about the task ahead. face. .

Northern Ireland have been drawn into a group with hosts Austria and Norway, three teams that their manager believes will have a say in the later stages of the competition.

He said: “We probably got to this final too early in terms of being ready, but we’ll see because I hope the girls can counter that and get a result against Norway and get a result against Austria as well.”

Shiels’ side, ranked 47th by FIFA, will take on 19th-ranked Belgium in a friendly in Antwerp on Thursday night in their only warm-up game (he had hoped to stage three), after seeing the Belgians lose 3-0 to England. at Molineux last week.

When asked what he learned from that encounter, Shiels said: “We learned that they are better than us. But they are good indicators.

“You can see how good England are, the best team in the world, the best players in the world, so you would expect them to win it.

“I think everyone is expecting England to win the European Championship and you’re probably looking at Norway as possible finalists, so I would think that if you asked people in women’s football, ‘Can you predict the final?’, two of them would probably will come from our group.

“But we don’t look at that. I’m not versed in talking about who’s going to win it, I just want to do my best for my country so the players get some experience, some happiness, everything.

“We have been deprived of happy things in our lives in the last two years; they don’t need me to explain to them what they are with the pandemic and all that stuff and rising fuel and cost of living.

“I just want people to be happy and I’m in a position to try to influence that.”

Shiels will name his squad for the final on Monday, by which time he will have to have made up his mind about his lingering fitness concerns, including captain Marissa Callaghan.

He reunited with his players having found himself at the center of controversy the last time they were together.

Her claim after April’s 5-0 World Cup qualifier loss to England in Belfast that women’s teams tend to concede goals in groups because women players are “more emotional than men” was roundly condemned, although she was quickly criticized. support of their players.

Shields, who later apologized, insisted his comments were misconstrued.

He said: “Sometimes people in your profession can intentionally misunderstand, and that’s exactly what happened.

But I’m not going back there. We are looking to see how well we can do in the European Championship.”



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