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King catches sight of Ireland's destiny

Victory over Sweden on Thursday would take the Republic of Ireland into their first UEFA women's finals at any level and manager Noel King said: "We are one step away from making history."

Ireland began the mini-tournament with victory against Ukraine
Ireland began the mini-tournament with victory against Ukraine ©Olexandr Ilyin

Republic of Ireland manager Noel King believes his side can upset the odds and become the first from their nation to qualify for a UEFA women's final tournament.

Ireland meet Sweden in UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship second qualifying round Group 3 in Simferopol on Thursday needing a victory to overhaul their opponents' two-point lead and secure a semi-final with holders Germany in Nyon on 22 June. King's side have beaten hosts Ukraine 3-1 and drawn 1-1 with Poland so far in the mini-tournament leaving them one win from history.

"The game against Sweden is a massive game for everybody involved," said King, also manager of Ireland's senior women's team. "We are one step away from making history and qualifying for the semi-finals of the UEFA championships – the stakes don't get much higher than that. We have done considerably well to get here and I know that the team are prepared to go all of the way to the finals in the summer. All logic throughout Europe expects Sweden to qualify for these finals but logic is regularly contradicted in football."

King will be missing midfielder Niamh McLaughlin through suspension but the manager is confident they can cope against a Sweden side who have scored ten goals in their two wins. "With Niamh McLaughlin's suspension, we will make at least one change to the starting lineup but the rest of the squad are eager to feature in the final game and that is something I will have to decide on," King said.

"With the strength in depth in the squad, any changes which are made will add weight to the side rather than take away from our performance. As a team, we have been together for almost two years and they have all shown fantastic progression as a team and as individuals. As manager of the team, I would like to make more progress and get to the last four in Europe."