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Northern Ireland Women to face Ukraine for place at Euro 2022

England v Northern Ireland – Women’s International Friendly – St Georges Park
(Image credit: FA Handout)

Northern Ireland Women have been drawn against Ukraine in the play-offs for a place at Euro 2022.

Kenneth Shiels’ squad won their final two Group C games to edge out Wales on head-to-head away goals and secure second place behind Norway in qualifying for the tournament.

Ukraine overtook the Republic of Ireland in their final Group I match to claim the runners-up spot behind Germany.

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Friday’s draw to determine the three remaining places in England next summer had initially seen Russia pulled out of the pot to face Ukraine.

However, with UEFA not allowing Russia and Ukraine to be drawn together for political reasons, the Russians, second in Group A behind defending European champions Holland, will instead face Portugal.

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The final play-off tie sees the Czech Republic take on Switzerland, with the fixtures to take place over two legs from April 7 to 13.

Euro 2022 will see 16 nations compete across 10 venues during July, with the final to be played at Wembley.

A depleted Northern Ireland squad were beaten 6-0 by England in a behind-closed-doors friendly at St George’s Park last week, which marked Hege Riise’s first game in temporary charge of the Lionesses.

Marissa Callaghan of Northern Ireland tackles England's Jill Scott

Cliftonville midfielder Marissa Callaghan (centre) was in action against England at St George’s Park (FA Handout/PA)

Ukraine were 24th in the last FIFA world rankings, with Northern Ireland, who are looking to qualify for a major tournament for the first time, in 49th position.

Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan, though, believes it is a tie to feel confident about given what other potential opponents were in the pot.

“We were hoping and praying to stay away from the Swiss and Russia, so anyone apart from them would have been a great draw,” the Cliftonville midfielder said in an interview with the Irish Football Association.

“It is over to us now, we are just looking forward to it.

“We have played them a couple of times in the last few years and it is a good draw for us.

“We have matches (against them) which we can look back on and make sure we are prepared.”

Callaghan added: “When Ukraine came out, I jumped up and down with delight because it was just kind of a relief that we have a good daw.

“Now it is just about getting ourselves ready, prepare and working hard over the next few weeks.”