NI Women's boss Oxtoby hoping team can make fans proud against Malta

Tanya Oxtoby, manager of the Northern Ireland senior women's team, traps a ball in training.
Tanya Oxtoby, manager of the Northern Ireland senior women's team pictured during training at Windsor Park in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.

Northern Ireland Women’s manager Tanya Oxtoby says she is hopeful that her team can make the supporters proud of the way they play football, when they host Malta on Friday night at Windsor Park.

“Playing at home gives the fans a chance to come and watch us on a Friday evening, and we’re excited,” she said.

“We want to put in a really strong performance, we want to make them proud in terms of the way we play our football.

“We had a meeting there just before, and we were talking about how we’re two evenly matched teams in terms of the way that we go about our football.

“So, it’s going to be a great game, and we hope that the home fans can drive us over the line.”

Friday’s game is the first of their six matches in the league phase of qualifiers for UEFA Women’s Euro 2025, and starting off at home gives them a chance to get some extra preparation work done on the training field, much to the delight of Oxtoby.

“Firstly, it’s great not to have to travel around after just two days of being together,” she said. “That’s a bonus, because we get an extra day on the pitch which is fabulous for us.”

Northern Ireland retained their place in League B of the inaugural Women’s Nations League, as they defeated Montenegro 3-1 in February to finish third behind Ireland and Hungary.

“We wanted to use the first campaign to evaluate where we were at, on and off the pitch and I feel like we did that,” reflected Oxtoby.

“We were still able to maintain our status within the league, so it was really successful from that point of view.

“I’ve learned a lot about the players, they’ve learned a lot about me, and I think we’re really starting to find our feet now, in terms of the environment we’re trying to create, and what we need to focus on to continue to progress.”