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Denise O'Sullivan: World Cup Last-16 Is The Goal For Ireland

Denise O'Sullivan: World Cup Last-16 Is The Goal For Ireland
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Denise O'Sullivan believes progressing from their group at this summer's World Cup is a realistic goal for Ireland.

In what will be Ireland's first major women's championship finals, they will face world number 12-ranked hosts Australia, world number seven-ranked Canada, and world number 45-ranked Nigeria in the group stage.

"Last 16 is a goal for us," O'Sullivan told Balls on Wednesday following the announcement that NWSL clubs will be integrated into EA SPORTS FIFA 23.

"If we could do that, that would be absolutely phenomenal. We know how difficult it is, we have a very tough group. The hosts, we play them first in front of 80,000 - 90,000 people.

"That's what we dream of as players, to play in front of that type of crowd is going to be phenomenal. It's going to be close to a sell-out. I was definitely happy to see it moved [to Stadium Australia].

"If we can get out of the group, get to the last-16, then that would be a huge achievement for us."

denise o sullivan ireland world cup

New partnerships kick off with full integration of NWSL clubs and players into EA SPORTS FIFA 23

O'Sullivan has noticed a massive increase in interest in the Irish team since they qualified for the World Cup thanks to Amber Barrett's winner against Scotland in October.

'Now they can say their heroes are going to a World Cup'

"Social media has been one of the biggest things," she said.


"You're getting messages, being contacted by people that you've never heard of to say how proud they are of us.

"Knowing we have made the country proud is something I'm very proud of. Being role models for these young girls, I think that's the biggest thing that has come out of it, having those girls look up to you. Now they can say their heroes are going to a World Cup."


In last month's goalless draw with China, Aoife Mannion, Marissa Sheva and Deborah-Anne de la Harpe - all who had recently declared for Ireland - made their debuts.


22 February 2023; Republic of Ireland players, from left, Aoife Mannion, Marissa Sheva and Deborah-Anne de la Harpe after the international friendly match between China PR and Republic of Ireland at Estadio Nuevo Mirador in Algeciras, Spain. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"We're all very friendly, all very welcoming," said O'Sullivan.


"Of course, it's a tough time to come into the squad when players already have been part of the journey the whole time in getting the team to qualification. I'm sure for those girls that it was a bit intimidating, a bit nerve-wracking.

"From speaking to those girls during camp and after camp, and seeing interviews with them over social media, they only said great things about the team.

"Of course, it's going to be a very competitive environment because people want to be on that plane going to the World Cup. It was probably hard for them but we did our best to make them feel welcome and like they were part of it.


"If they add quality to the squad, add more than what's there, then I think it's good. We want to get the best, and Vera wants to get the best 23 players on that plane to Australia.

"It's important that we have the best quality players going for us to have the best chance."

The game against China was the first of five friendlies which Ireland will play in preparation for the World Cup. Next up will be the far tougher test of a double-header against reigning world champions USA. Ireland face the US in Austin on April 8th and then in St Louis on April 11th.


"Number one in the world, they have the experience," said O'Sullivan.

"I'm sure we're going to be playing in front of large crowds. It will definitely be a great experience and preparation for the World Cup."

Starting March 15th across all platforms, all 12 NWSL teams will be present within Kick Off, Tournament Mode, Head to Head season / Co-op Seasons and Online Friendlies. Also available in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 23 will be four NWSL stadiums, along with authentic kits, starheads, trophies and celebrations.

See Also: Cork Legend Wants To See Day When It's Called Hurling, Not Camogie

denise o sullivan ireland world cup


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