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Vera Pauw says beating Sweden in opening qualifier would be ‘one of the biggest achievements’ ever in Irish sport

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Louise Quinn and manager Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Louise Quinn and manager Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Louise Quinn and manager Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ireland manager Vera Pauw believes that a result for her side against Sweden in Ireland's opening World Cup qualifier tomorrow would go down as one of the biggest achievements in Irish sport.

Ranked 33rd in the world, the Republic face up to a Sweden side who are in second place in the FIFA rankings, behind the USA, with the Swedes expected to cruise home in winning the group and Ireland likely to battle with Finland, and Slovakia, for second place.

A sell-out crowd of 4,000 will support the Girls In Green but Pauw admits that this is about the toughest tie in the European game," she said before Wednesday's final training session at Tallaght Stadium.

"It's fantastic to play high opposition, we love it. We have a team who have no fear of failure, but we are realistic where we stand. We are 33 in the ranking list, Sweden are second, finalists at the Olympic Games.

"It will be like playing Germany or USA, Sweden is part of that little group. It will be a very, very tough game for us. I am not downplaying it but being realistic. It will be very tough.

"It's the first game of the qualifying campaign but as a game in itself, if it was to turn out that way, it would be massive, one of the biggest achievements for this country.

"As always when we play higher opposition we want to play our best game, we have prepared in a way to get the best out of ourselves and to be connected to one another. That's what we have done all the way, we are in development and growing but are also realistic in where we are," added Pauw, whose side missed the chance to get a qualifier in before they faced the Swedes as a trip to Georgia was called off for Covid-related reasons last month.

"We don't fear, we have no fear of failure and we will see what we can do tomorrow but I have to be honest, Sweden are second in the world and it is another level."

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