Former England captain Faye White believes the Lionesses will have no problem qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but is intrigued by the matches they will play against Ireland from North.
England were also drawn with Austria, North Macedonia, Latvia and Luxembourg in the race to reach the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
But it was the prospect of competitive fixtures against Northern Ireland, who were recently beaten 6-0 by England in a friendly but advanced to the European Championships next summer, that has attracted the attention of whites.
“They [England] could have been placed in a little more difficult groups but with England being sixth in the world they are expected to qualify quite easily for the majors, ”said White.
“There is always something special when the home nations are twinned and Northern Ireland is the team everyone is talking about right now because they have qualified for the Euro and that will be incredible for them to experience this tournament.
“The more Northern Ireland play against bigger teams the better off they will be for the next few matches and the experience of playing in Euros will give them confidence for the next round of qualifying matches.
“This will only add an additional advantage to qualifying for England and it is a solid group but one that they should easily qualify with because they have experience playing in tournaments, while Latvia and Luxembourg struggled to make it to the tournaments. “
The World Cup qualifiers will represent the first matches where current Dutch boss Sarina Wiegman will take the lead in England after it was announced in August that she would take over as ex-boss Phil Neville.
Matches will be played in a round robin format between September 2021 and September 2022, with a break in the summer of 2022 for the European Women’s Championship.
2023 Women’s World Cup qualifiers – full draw
GROUP A: Sweden, Finland, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND, Slovakia, Georgia
GROUP B: Spain, SCOTLAND, Ukraine, Hungary, Faroe Islands
GROUP C: Netherlands, Iceland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Cyprus
GROUP D: ENGLAND, Austria, NORTH IRELAND, North Macedonia, Latvia, Luxembourg
GROUP E: Denmark, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Malta, Montenegro
GROUP F: Norway, Belgium, Poland, Albania, Kosovo, Armenia
GROUP G: Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia, Moldova, Lithuania
GROUP H: Germany, Portugal, Serbia, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria
GROUP I: France, WALES, Slovenia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Estonia