Belfast Telegraph

Wylie is giving Northern Ireland girls a licence to thrill

 

By Laure James

Northern Ireland will go all out against Scotland in search of points in the Women's Under-19 European Championship at Mourneview Park tonight (7pm). Boss Alfie Wylie says they've weighed up Scotland's threats and will seek to hit high notes.

"We know Scotland will be a very tough task, they topped their qualifying group and have some very talented players from clubs such as Hibs and Glasgow City," Wylie said.

"Their senior team are on a high after the Euros in Netherlands, which will have inspired them, and we will look forward to making as much of this game as we can.

"We are realistic enough to recognise how strong they are, and we've done extensive homework, but we've progressed a great deal and are feeling good.

"We have given our all, we hope everyone will be fit and well for it and we know it's going to be an entertaining game.

"When Northern Ireland traditionally play it's about trying not to lose. This time we will be trying to turn the game around to try and win. That's what we have been working on in training."

The squad of 18 may not boast the depth of other competing nations, but Wylie's girls have immense determination and drive.

"We don't have the depth or players to change it completely, but in training they've tried different things," said Wylie.

"What they've been taught to do so far is still conditioned in their mindset which is good, as we don't get to be with the girls very often, so they aren't playing one formation, changing it completely then switching back to play Germany or something.

"So we'll stick to what we are good at, then look at a transition game and hit them on the break."

The squad has earned support from senior men's boss - and Edinburgh-based - Michael O'Neill, who admitted loyalties in his home will be divided.

He said: "There's a lot at stake. I watched both in their opening matches and they produced good defensive displays. I think it will be more open and that should make for an interesting game."

His eldest daughter, Erin, plays within the Scottish FA's regional girls' football programme.

"I think she will have a foot in both camps," O'Neill said. "Playing at the Euros is a big step for both countries.

"They will have been glad they got drawn in the same group as they will see it as a chance to get points."

Northern Ireland lost 2-0 to Spain at Windsor Park on Tuesday, while Scotland were beaten 3-0 by Germany at the same venue.

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