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Thursday 13 Jun 2024
Women’s futsal team to compete in World Cup qualifiers

Northern Ireland’s senior women’s futsal team will be competing in qualifiers for the inaugural FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup this autumn.

European qualifying for the World Cup – it is being staged in the Philippines next year (exact dates TBC) – will consist of a main round in the autumn and an elite round next spring.

Northern Ireland will be competing in the main round between 15 and 20 October. They have been drawn in Group 3, one of six groups in stage one.

In the main round 24 teams will compete, while top European seeds Portugal and Spain will enter at the elite round stage.

Only group winners at stage one will qualify for the elite round, which will feature two groups of four, including the Portuguese and Spanish. From there four teams will qualify for the inaugural 16-team World Cup tournament.

The top seeds in Northern Ireland’s main round group are Hungary, who have reached the Women’s Futsal Euros final tournament over the past two years.

Second seeds in Group 3 are Czechia, who will host the four-team mini tournament this autumn, while Northern Ireland are third seeds.

The fourth seeds in the group are France, who will be making their competitive debut in the World Cup qualifiers.

Keith Gibson, manager of the Northern Ireland senior women’s futsal team, said: “Due to recent good results we found ourselves in Pot 3 when the draw was made for the main round. The draw wasn’t exactly kind to us as both Hungary and Czechia are very strong teams.

“France have only had a team for two years, but they have been very impressive in friendlies to date. As they hadn’t previously played in qualifiers they found themselves in Pot 4 in the draw. We feel a bit hard done by to have been drawn against them to be honest.

“However, it is fantastic that FIFA has launched the Futsal Women’s World Cup and we are really looking forward to the challenge.”

Preparations for stage one of the qualifiers in October will begin with two development friendlies against England Deaf Futsal.

Back in April the Northern Ireland senior women’s futsal team registered their best win to date when they defeated Belgium in a friendly.

The women’s team faced the Belgians in two challenge matches at Newry Leisure Centre.

Belgium, ranked 12th in Europe, won the first game 5-1, however Northern Ireland turned on the style on matchday two and registered a superb 4-1 win.

Image: The senior women’s futsal squad that faced Belgium back in April.