NI Women facing ‘really tough game’ against Czechia

Northern Ireland Women will be up against “a quality side” in the second of their two international friendlies this month.

Czechia are Northern Ireland’s opponents in Opava this evening and Gail Redmond, the interim manager of Northern Ireland’s senior women’s team, is expecting a tough challenge.

“The Czechs are very, very talented on the ball. They keep the ball well and they are technically good, with brilliant movement,” she said.

The game at Stadion v Mestskych sadech (Stadium Municipal Gardens) in Opava, home of Czech National Football League (second tier) men’s team Slezsky FC Opava, is due to kick off at 6.30 BST.

Redmond further revealed: “We know that when the Czechs are in possession we will have to concentrate and be compact. We also need to be able to communicate effectively because their players move around the pitch a lot, switching into different positions.

“They have quality all around the pitch. We are expecting a really, really tough game.”

The challenge match is a warm-up game for both countries ahead of the inaugural UEFA Women’s Nations League this autumn.

Czechia currently sit in 27th position in the Coca-Cola FIFA Women’s World Ranking list, while Northern Ireland occupy 45th place.

On Friday Northern Ireland lost 3-0 to Scotland Women in a friendly in Dundee, while Czechia enjoyed a 3-0 home win over near neighbours Slovakia in a challenge match.

In the UEFA Women’s Nations League this autumn Northern Ireland will face Republic of Ireland, Hungary and Albania in League B Group 1, while Czechia are in League B Group 4 along with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Belarus.

Redmond revealed yesterday that she will freshen up her team for the game in Opava. She said the match will enable her to give game time to some members of the 23-strong panel who did not play against the Scots.

Both squads have a blend of youth and experience, however the Czechs have rested some of their more experienced players for this month’s friendlies.

The majority of the Czechia squad play their football in their home country with the likes of Sparta Prague, Slavia Prague, Viktoria Plzen and Slovacko.

However, in their midst are a handful of players who ply their trade elsewhere.

Experienced defender/midfielder Klara Cahynova, who has more than 90 caps for her country, plays for Sevilla in Spain.

Chelsea midfielder Katerina Svitkova has just over 50 caps to her name and an impressive scoring record at international level: 25 goals and counting.

And 21-year-old striker Andrea Staskova, who netted against the Slovaks last week after coming off the bench in the second half, has just joined AC Milan from Atletico Madrid. She has found the net 16 times in 36 appearances for her country.

Already at AC Milan is another striker, Kamila Dubcova, who has also reached double figures in the scoring charts for the Czechs.

Sparta Prague midfielder Aneta Pochmanova, who scored against Slovakia too, is one of the rising stars of women’s football in the country.

Stadion v Mestskych sadech has a capacity of circa 7000. Around 1000 spectators attended the game against Slovakia at the same venue last week and similar numbers are expected at tonight’s international challenge match.

Image: Northern Ireland players train at the home of Slezsky FC Opava ahead of this evening’s friendly international against Czechia.

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