Northern Ireland

Ireland against Nigeria, manager Vera wants team to play best game ever

Australia's Steph Catley celebrates scoring their side's penalty, condemning the Irish to an opening World Cup defeat
Australia's Steph Catley celebrates scoring their side's penalty, condemning the Irish to an opening World Cup defeat Australia's Steph Catley celebrates scoring their side's penalty, condemning the Irish to an opening World Cup defeat

Tens of thousands of soccer fans will tune in to watch Ireland plays Nigeria in their final game of the World Cup on Monday.

It brings to their close a tournament where the team almost matched the very best.

Manager Vera Pauw and her players said the team wants to end the tournament on a high with victory over Nigeria, who defeated hosts Australia and drew with Canada.

The game will be played in Brisbane, at 11am Irish time. Nigeria only need to draw to progress.

Meanwhile, Morocco defender Nouhaila Benzina made history on Sunday by becoming the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup.

Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a head covering for religious reasons at a Women’s World Cup (James Elsby/AP)
Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a head covering for religious reasons at a Women’s World Cup (James Elsby/AP) Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a head covering for religious reasons at a Women’s World Cup (James Elsby/AP)

The 25-year-old wore the Islamic headscarf in her first appearance at the tournament. She played in her side's 1-0 win over South Korea.

Irish Defender Megan Connolly, speaking after narrow losses to Australia and Canada, said: "As a team and nation we wanted to come out with more but I know we have made everyone proud."

Connolly added: "Our goal doesn't change from the start. We want to come away from this tournament with a win.

The Ireland squad pictured ahead of kick-off at their opening Women's World Cup match against Australia in Sydney. Picture: PA
The Ireland squad pictured ahead of kick-off at their opening Women's World Cup match against Australia in Sydney. Picture: PA The Ireland squad pictured ahead of kick-off at their opening Women's World Cup match against Australia in Sydney. Picture: PA

"I think, to date, we deserve to be here with the two performances we have put in. We want to come away with a win.

"This is our first tournament but hopefully not our last. We want to be here every tournament, I think tomorrow we are going to put in a good performance and come away with points."

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Manager Vera Pauw said there are unlikely to be any major changes to Ireland's line up. "The team can rise to any occasion and the bigger the challenge, the better we are," said Pauw.

Vera Pauw has led Ireland to a first World Cup but the team will fly home following the match against Nigeria (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Vera Pauw has led Ireland to a first World Cup but the team will fly home following the match against Nigeria (Isabel Infantes/PA) Vera Pauw has led Ireland to a first World Cup but the team will fly home following the match against Nigeria (Isabel Infantes/PA)

"This is a hugely important and a very difficult game. The outcome of the game does not change our flight back. The team is so determined to finish up with a very good game, the best game ever."

Ireland versus Canada set a new record as the highest watched women's team sporting event in Irish television history.

More than 550,000 TV viewers watched on RTÉ2 with a 68.9 per cent audience share.It was also the second highest live event so far this year on RTÉ Player with 234,883 streams.