Ireland are a better team than Ukraine, however, Vera Pauw’s side must maintain their concentration and not get over-confident going into their vital game at the Obolon Arena in Kyiv on Friday.
That’s the opinion of injured Ireland defender, Chloe Mustaki, who is confident that Pauw’s side will secure second place in their Euro 2022 group with a result in the Ukraine capital.
A runners-up finish will guarantee Ireland, at least, a play-off for a place in the rescheduled tournament, which will now be hosted in England during the summer of 2022, a year later than originally planned.
While victory in Ukraine coupled with a strong showing against Germany in the final group match could see Pauw’s side qualify automatically as one of the three best second-placed sides.
“I’m quietly confident,” said former Shelbourne player Mustaki, who injured her cruciate ligament while on international duty earlier this year.
“We are definitely a better team than Ukraine, but it’s football, it’s sport, so you never know what will happen on the day.
“It’s a massive game, but you don’t want to get too confident,” added Mustaki, who was speaking on this week’s RTÉ Soccer Podcast.
“We need to maintain our concentration and not get too cocky.”
Mustaki believes the preparation over the next few days could prove vital for the Irish side, who are based in Duisburg in Germany ahead of flying out to Ukraine for Friday’s match.
And she is sure that Pauw will be making sure the players know their roles ahead of the vital game, knowing that Ukraine will be confident following some good recent results, which have made up for their disastrous start to the campaign where they lost heavily to Germany in back-to-back games.
“Work hard, know our jobs well and try to execute them as best as possible; I’m sure that will be the atmosphere around the camp,” she said.
“[Ukraine] have had a few good results recently, beating Greece 4-0 and they’ll have done their homework on the Irish team so they will be well up for this game.”
Ireland beat Ukraine 3-2 in the first game between the two sides and Mustaki believes that Ireland have the squad and the management team to get the job done ahead of the Germany match.
“We have fantastic players. And an extremely strong and a very good management team,” she said.
“They would obviously have liked to have a bit longer together but they have a few days now, so they’ll get a good few days training and give it their all.
“There is no reason why we can’t do it.”
Watch Friday’s crucial UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifier between Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 4.30pm, with live updates on rte.ie/sport.
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