After Dutch defeat, Wylie's women face another tough test in World Cup clash

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Double Dutch - Northern Ireland's Rachel Furness on the ball in Holland. Image courtesy Irish FA.

Q Radio Sport

The Northern Ireland women's team will face another massive challenge when they come up against Norway in Portadown tonight. 

Fresh from a 7-0 defeat to European champions Netherlands, Alfie Wylie’s team can expect to be under the cosh once more when the Norwegians visit Shamrock Park (7.45 kick-off, free admission) for a FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Qualifying Group 3 clash.

In the reverse fixture, Norway - the number one seeds in the group - won 4-1 in Fredrikstad back in September.

The Dutch created more than 30 chances against Northern Ireland on Friday night in Eindhoven – and Norway are also expected to go on the attack in Portadown.

Netherlands and Republic of Ireland currently lead the group on 10 points apiece, with three wins and a draw each, but Martin Sjögren’s side are still very much in the hunt.

While the Dutch boast players who ply their trade with the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Arsenal in their ranks, Norway have a squad of players who largely play their football in Scandinavia, although some of their key players operate in Germany and England.

They have only played three games in the group so far and have six points in the bag. After beating Northern Ireland 4-1 and Slovakia 6-1, they suffered their only defeat to date away to Netherlands (1-0) after conceding a last minute goal.

“This is another extremely difficult game for us coming just four days after we played the European champions,” admitted Northern Ireland boss Wylie.

Chelsea Ladies defender Maren Mjelde, with more than 120 caps, is not only a defensive stalwart for Norway but she also weighs in with goals (19).

Midfielder Caroline Graham Hansen (Wolfsburg) also gets her fair share of goals, with 19 in 58 appearances.

The Northern Ireland defence, however, will really need to be on their toes when they face striker Isabell Herlovsen. The Valerenga forward has scored 52 times for her country (115 caps).

The girls in green will have to be at the top of their game to have any realistic chance of success.

The likes of striker Rachel Furness, defenders Ashley Hutton and Julie Nelson and midfielders Sarah McFadden and Marissa Callaghan, the team captain, will have to lead by example if Wylie’s women are to prevail.

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