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Tuesday 26 Sep 2023
Oxtoby aiming to put points on board

Northern Ireland senior women’s team boss Tanya Oxtoby is keen to put points on the board when her team face Albania in Belfast this evening.

The new manager’s first game in charge saw Northern Ireland lose 3-0 to Republic of Ireland in Dublin at the weekend.

She insists lessons have been learnt from that encounter at the Aviva Stadium ahead of the game against the Albanians at Seaview (7 o’clock start, with livestream on BBC Sport NI website).

In interviews with media yesterday, she revealed she will freshen up the team for what will be their second game in the inaugural UEFA Women’s Nations League.

And she stressed that the players will be going all out to put points on the board in League B Group 1.

Northern Ireland currently sit bottom of the UWNL B1 table after Albania drew 1-1 last week with Hungary, the other team in the group. Albania are currently ranked 72nd in the world, while Northern Ireland are in 47th position in the global rankings.

In her Manager’s View column in the programme for the game against the Albanians, she says: “We face another tough challenge against Albania tonight.

“They earned a point following a home draw against Hungary in their first game in the group. Although Hungary had more attempts on goal during the game in Shkoder, Albania had almost as many attempts on target as the Hungarians and they took their chance when it came their way.

“As you would expect we have done our homework on Albania and we are looking forward to seeing our girls take another step in our journey together and play some exciting football.”

She also reveals she is looking forward to leading a team out on home soil.

The boss says: “I am super excited about taking charge of the team in a home game for the first time.

“My first experience of the GAWA was at the match against England at the Euros last year and I was very impressed with the Northern Ireland fans’ passion and noise.

“Our fans were superb again during the game against Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Saturday and I have no doubt they will bring the noise again tonight.”

Two members of the Northern Ireland squad will reach significant milestones this evening – if selected.

Sarah McFadden is expected to don the captain’s armband as she earns her 100th cap, while Lauren Wade has reached the 50-cap mark.

McFadden, who has played in defence, midfield and up front for her country down the years, has been a stalwart of the senior women’s team since making her debut aged 17 in March 2005 against Sweden in the Algarve Cup.

Wade (29) made her senior Northern Ireland debut in November 2013 in a 3-0 defeat to Poland in a World Cup qualifier.

Oxtoby told the BBC that both Wade and McFadden are "such an important part of what we do".

"I think they have both contributed so much to this country in terms of their footballing ability, but also they are role models to the younger girls," said the Australian.

"That is something we want to make sure we can continue to develop within our group and that is why that leadership is so important. I'm very grateful to have them in the group."

Tickets are still available for this evening’s game via