Sarah McFadden: No excuse for Northern Ireland losers in Euro play-offs against Ukraine
Sarah McFadden focuses on the present, not the prize as she strives for glory with the Northern Ireland Girls in Green.
their destination, Women’s Euro 2022 in England, is in sight, but for Sarah and her teammates, it’s now time to complete the final leg of what has already been an exciting and thrilling roller coaster ride.
Beating Ukraine over two innings will see Northern Ireland make history as they qualify for a major tournament for the first time and, rightly so, Kenny Shiels’ players dare to dream – and have been doing so ever since. clinched their place in the dams by beating the Faroe Islands last December.
Now, however, they kick off their game and focus their full attention on the task at hand of beating Ukraine in 180 minutes of football, starting with Kolos Stadium in Kovalivka today.
“We are thrilled now,” McFadden said after landing in Ukraine.
“We avoided the trip. We put our last training session aside and now we can focus on the business we need to do.
“We are all just happy to be here and everyone is in a great mood and we are good to go.
“We don’t even think about the Euros in England. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
“We have two massive games ahead of us. We are the underdogs against Ukraine, but hopefully we can get the job done.”
Seventy-five caps in her career in Northern Ireland, which now spans 17 years, McFadden has seen and done a lot as an international footballer – but not all.
Many players have come and gone during this time since she, along with other longtime team members Julie Nelson and Ashley Hutton, played in the Algarve Cup in 2005 after the Federation Irishwoman took the international women’s team under her auspices.
A strong team spirit has been harvested over the years and that will also play a part as each of them will face the biggest game of their career to date.
“We have a great group that has been together for a long time,” said McFadden.
“When it comes to this point, we can’t have any excuses. We just have to go out and get the job done. We’re perfectly prepared for whatever we’re going to encounter.”
Ukraine is currently experiencing a peak in Covid-19 cases which is close to the country’s previous peak at the end of November last year.
Like next Tuesday’s second leg at Seaview, the game will be played in front of empty stands and, without the crowd having to shut up today, McFadden believes that erases an element of home advantage which, on the other hand , don’t think it will. will affect Northern Ireland in the crucial second leg.
“I think that the fact that Ukraine does not have supporters at the game will benefit us a bit because the Ukrainians maybe fed off the presence of their supporters,” she said.
“We’re used to playing in empty stadiums now, so we’ll be fine with that and not really think about it – and just hope to get the job done.”
Ω REPUBLIC of Ireland The women were beaten 1-0 by Denmark in last night’s friendly match at Tallaght Stadium.