Soccer

Vera Pauw hopeful final World Cup group game not last in Republic of Ireland job

Ireland captain Katie McCabe (right) and Nigeria’s Gift Monday battled for the ball the their final group match (PA)
Ireland captain Katie McCabe (right) and Nigeria’s Gift Monday battled for the ball the their final group match (PA) Ireland captain Katie McCabe (right) and Nigeria’s Gift Monday battled for the ball the their final group match (PA)

Republic of Ireland boss Vera Pauw said she did not feel it was her last match in the job after the Girls In Green bowed out of the World Cup by securing an historic point.

Having been beaten 1-0 by co-hosts Australia and then 2-1 by Canada in the opening two matches of their debut major tournament campaign, which ended their last-16 hopes, Ireland’s final Group B game finished in a goalless draw against Nigeria in Brisbane.

Pauw’s contract is coming to an end and she said in her postmatch press conference: “I don’t feel this is my last game.”

The Dutchwoman had previously stated she wanted to continue in the role beyond the tournament and – when asked if she was hopeful of getting a new contract – she said: “I’ve been very clear, haven’t I, so I don’t need to answer that I think.”

Pauw, who did not make a substitution in the Nigeria game until the 83rd minute, was also asked about skipper Katie McCabe having requested change being made earlier during the contest.

And she said: “Why would we change? If Katie McCabe says that she wants to change, it doesn’t mean…she’s not the coach. Everybody was doing so well, so I said ‘what do you want, Katie, taking the best player off? No’.

“Players are allowed to be emotional and allowed to say that. That’s fine. But during the game I step back and analyse and we make changes the moment that it is necessary.

“A player can ask always, but as a coach it’s not a refusal. As a coach you make decisions on what is necessary. A player can say everything to a coach, at least to me.

“(McCabe said) she wanted fresh legs on her side. (No change was made) because everybody was doing so well. Sinead Farrelly was arguably the best player on the pitch at that moment. So I was not prepared to take the best player off.”

McCabe herself posted a tweet featuring a zipped mouth emoji after the game.

McCabe, scorer of the team’s first-ever goal at this level in the Canada match, sent an effort wide of Nigeria’s goal early on.

Ireland goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan subsequently made a fantastic save, diving to push Uchenna Kanu’s 52nd-minute header against the crossbar, en route to Pauw’s side clinching the landmark result.

Pauw said: “I think we can be extremely proud of ourselves.

“We have lost a game through a very unlucky penalty kick (against Australia), an own goal (against Canada) and now 0-0 against (world number 40) Nigeria, who I rate as a top-10 nation.

“We’ve been very unlucky, we’ve done fantastically and the players have grown from very good, very talented players to international, top players.

“From the games, what I take out is that we can face everybody and that if you look at the stats and that we are getting closer and closer and closer in everything, then we are far ahead of schedule.”

Randy Waldrum’s Nigeria, who had pulled off a shock 3-2 victory over Australia in their second game, advance as Group B runners-up to a last-16 showdown next Monday at the same stadium against the winner of Group D – currently led by England.

Asked if she would give Nigeria a chance of beating the European champions, Pauw said: “(England manager) Sarina (Wiegman) will make her own game-plan.

“They will be able to put pressure on Nigeria. That doesn’t mean Nigeria would not have a chance against them.

“But if you have all players, both on the bench and on the pitch, playing 90 minutes every week at the highest level, at the best clubs, then they are the favourite for the World Cup – so that means, if you ask me about chances, England will have a bigger chance.

“But that doesn’t mean Nigeria hasn’t played incredible matches.”