All five of Northern Ireland’s potential opponents in next month’s Women’s Euro 2022 play-offs are ranked higher than the girls in green and white.
Northern Ireland senior women’s team manager Kenny Shiels knows his side will be classed as underdogs no matter who they are paired with in the play-offs draw today (5 March).
The potential opponents are Switzerland, Russia, Portugal, Ukraine and Czech Republic.
In the latest Coca-Cola FIFA World Ranking – published in December – the Swiss were in 19th position, the highest ranking of the six teams in tomorrow’s draw. Closest to them were Russia in 23rd followed by Ukraine in 24th and Czech Republic in 27th.
Portugal were also in the top 30, in 30th place, with Northern Ireland jumping up six places into the top 50 in 49th position.
The draw for the play-offs is due to be held at UEFA HQ in Switzerland and will be streamed live on uefa.com from 11am.
No seeding applies for the draw and the names of the six teams will be placed in one bowl. The team drawn into position one for each fixture will play the first leg at home.
Based on UEFA Executive Committee decisions valid at this time, Russia and Ukraine cannot be drawn together.
The games themselves will be played over two legs between 7 and 13 April.
The three play-off winners will advance to the July 2022 finals to join hosts England, nine qualifying group winners and three runners-up that are already assured of finals places.
Northern Ireland finished as runners-up in Group C in December thanks to home and away wins over Faroe Islands and Belarus as well as two draws with Wales. Norway topped the group.
England is set to host the 16-team finals from 6 to 31 July next year.