Women’s World Cup play-offs: Scotland and Wales dream of finishing but Republic of Ireland reach World Cup

Katie McCabe
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe leads the celebrations with her teammates

It was a case of so close but so far for Scotland and Wales in the 2023 Women’s World Cup play-offs, but for the Republic of Ireland it was the night they made history by reaching the finals for the first time.

Amber Barrett’s goal burst at Hampden Park was enough to push Scotland away and secured Ireland’s place in a first major tournament.

Defeat for the Scots means they will miss out on two major league titles in a row after previously qualifying for Euro 2017 and the World Cup two years later.

Wales’ hopes of reaching a first major tournament were ended up in switzerland, who scored a winner in the dying seconds of extra time to claim a 2-1 victory and a place in Australia and New Zealand.

In the third play-off final, Portugal beat Iceland in extra time, although their 4-1 victory was not enough to seal automatic qualification.

The superior qualifying records of Switzerland and Ireland mean Portugal have one more hurdle to overcome as they will now play in the confederation play-offs in February.

Club Points
Switzerland 22
Republic of Ireland 20
Portugal 19

Who else has qualified for Europe?

England were among nine teams to get past their qualifying groups to book automatic places at next year’s World Cup. They won Group D with their best record in qualifying history, with 10 wins and 80 goals.

The Lionesses are joined by two-time World Cup winners Germany, 2019 runners-up Holland and Even Pellerud’s Norway, who remain the only other European world champions.

France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Italy also finished top of their groups and earned automatic qualification.

Switzerland and the Republic of Ireland now join those European groups, while Portugal will have one last chance at the inter-confederation play-offs.

The draw to determine the groups for the World Cup will take place on October 22 and will also decide whether a team will be based in Australia or New Zealand.

What are the inter-confederation play-offs?

A 10-team tournament will be held in New Zealand in 2023 to decide the final three finalists.

The teams will be divided into three groups, two of three groups and one of four, which will be played as knockouts.

In the two groups of three teams, the champion team will go straight to the final and meet the semi-final winners between the other two teams in their group.

Portugal will compete alongside Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti, Panama, Chile, Paraguay and Papua New Guinea.

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