World Cup progression

Key midfielder Denise O'Sullivan started Thursday's defeat by Australia after overcoming a shin injury
Key midfielder Denise O’Sullivan started Thursday’s defeat by Australia after overcoming a shin injury

Republic of Ireland midfielder Denise O’Sullivan says surprise progression from Group B “is in our hands” after the opening set of World Cup fixtures.

Co-hosts Australia defeated the Republic 1-0 in Sydney but Canada’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria boosted the Irish side’s chances of reaching the last 16.

A win over Canada on Wednesday will put the Irish on the brink of round two but defeat will mean an early exit in what has almost become a knockout game.

“It’s wide open”, O’Sullivan said.

The Republic are making their debut at the Women’s World Cup and were unlucky not to find a late equaliser against Australia after going behind to Steph Catley’s second-half penalty.

Canada’s surprise draw with the Nigerians means Ireland’s fate is still in their own hands but defeat by the Olympic champions would end their tournament prospects at the group stage.

However a draw or win would keep alive the hopes of Vera Pauw’s side and set up a final-game showdown with Nigeria in their concluding Group B match.

  • ‘Irish pain turns to hope as Group B is blown wide open’
  • Australia defeat debutants Republic of Ireland in opener

“Every single team in this group is very strong but for us to go out and be able to show what we can do in the game the other night was really refreshing,” O’Sullivan added.

“We will definitely look to take that into the next two games.

“We were obviously disappointed with the result [against Australia] but we can take a lot of positives from the game.

“It’s already in the back of my mind and I’m looking forward to the Canada game.”

Pauw’s side frustrated Australia in the first-half but were undone by Catley’s penalty before a more attacking approach almost led to Megan Connolly, Louise Quinn and captain Katie McCabe finding what would have been a famous equaliser.

O’Sullivan, who said being booked in the first match “won’t change her approach” despite a risk of suspension, would like to see more of the promising attacking play.

“Canada are an excellent team,” said the 29-year-old.

“They are the current Olympic champions and they have a lot of key players in that team. It is going to be a big challenge and one we will be prepared for.

“We wanted to stay compact and the first thing is to not concede but we want to get further up the pitch and have more opportunities.

“We want to score goals so I think that is the next step for this team.

“We did create a lot of chances and of course it is frustrating that we didn’t score, but this team came together afterwards and we rallied each other on.”

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