Tough World Cup qualifying group draw for Irish women's team
They are aiming to qualify for the first time15:38 Tuesday 25 April 2017, 15:38 25 Apr 2017
The Ireland women's national team have been drawn in a challenging UEFA qualification group for the 2019 World Cup.
Colin Bell's side will face Norway, Netherlands, Slovakia and Northern Ireland for a place at the finals.
The format of qualification means that just the group winners qualify automatically.
The Norwegian side has qualified for every FIFA Women's World Cup, winning the tournament in 1995 and reaching the last 16 last time out in 2015.
Norway also finished second at the last Women's European Championships in 2013 which is a measure of their pedigree.
Ireland recently faced Slovakia in a friendly and a Stephanie Roche penalty secured a 1-0 win at Tallaght Stadium.
Netherlands made their World Cup tournament debut in 2015 and reached the last 16 where they lost to Japan.
Ireland has yet to qualify for a World Cup or European Championship.
"Obviously, the draw is something you can't influence but looking at it, it's good for us logistically. There will be a bit of travelling with Slovakia but with the other nations, they're all pretty close which is great," said Bell as he reacted to the group draw.
"I know Norway well having worked over there before and they've plenty of top players throughout the squad. Ada Hegerberg is one of the best strikers in the world and they've got plenty of quality on the wings as well.
"Netherlands have really come on in the last year or so and have a number of players who will be able to create problems for any team in the world so we're under no illusions that it will be tough.
"It will be a great occasion to play Northern Ireland and it will create a great atmosphere when we play them at home and away so I'm really looking forward to it. We've recently played Slovakia and they had a few players missing so they'll also present us with a tough task.
"It'll all be in our preparation though and we've got to use the next friendly games to continue our good form to make sure we're in the strongest possible position going into the qualifying stage."
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