Kyra Carusa: ‘They say iron sharpens iron - in order to become better, sharper and to step up, you have to play against the best.’

Kyra Carusa celebrating in front of 36,000 fans in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday

Kyra Carusa celebrating scoring against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on 23 September 2023 Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from the Ireland camp

The FIFA rankings told a tale when the draw was made for Ireland’s EURO 2025 qualifying group. The Girls in Green were drawn against the world number three, four 

and five – France (World Cup quarter-finalists), England (European champions) and Sweden (World Cup third place and Olympic silver medalists).

In matches against these opponents down the years, Ireland have yet to win a game – losing ten of the 11 matches against France, seven defeats from seven against England (only scoring one goal) and two draws from eight games against Sweden.

However, don’t dispair; only ten of those games have come this century and one of those draws was from the most recent game against Sweden. The 1-1 draw in Gothenburg in April 2022 was a result that proved pivitol in Ireland qualifying for the World Cup.

This team has progressed since then with their performances at the tournament last summer in Australia and the six wins out of six Nations League campaign under Eileen Gleeson.

In that Nations League B promotion, Kyra Carusa joint top scored for the Girls in Green with five goals from the six games including a goal scored in front of 35,944 spectators in the Aviva Stadium.

The San Diego Waves striker will most likely leading the line for Ireland in the Aviva against England next Tuesday following this Friday’s match against France in Metz. 

On Easter Monday Carusa brought her sunny California disposition to an overcast day in Castleknock for the Ireland media day but there is also a determination about the 28-year-old forward and she has confidence with where this Ireland side is at post-World Cup.

“These are the games you want to be playing in,” said Carusa when asked by about the difficulty the Girls in Green face in their group.

“Challenging and daunting to some but, being at this level as a professional, if you are not wanting that, what are doing? How are you going to get better? 

“On top of playing in the Aviva (last November), coming off the World Cup playing in front of some of the biggest crowds we'd ever played in front of, you learn a lot really quickly. I'm excited to be back in the Aviva. It was a great experience last time (beating Northern Ireland 3-0).”

After this upcoming double header, Ireland will play home and away against Sweden and Ireland can take confidence from their recent performances and results against the Swedes (drawing 1-1 away and a narrow 1-0 home loss). Carusa believes the squad is even stronger now compared to the one that qualified for the World Cup.

“That game in Gothenburg is one that we still remind ourselves about as it wasn't too long ago. My (Swedish club) teammates (Hanna Lundkvist and Sofia Jakobsson) talk about that game as well which is funny though as they look at that as ‘this is why we didn't want to have you guys in our group’.

"They understand first hand the difficulty to play a team like us, especially now when compared to when we played them in that (World Cup qualifier). 

“It is good to know that those things stick with teams as well. We were just playing France right before the World Cup and that was quite an exciting game for a bit of it. It could have taken a few turns had there been certain calls called.

"That is something that a team like France looks at and they remember that one when they get drawn into a group with us.

“They say ‘iron sharpens iron’ and in order to become better, sharper and to step up, you have to play against the best.

"It has to be normalised with that competitiveness, the level of play, the speed of play and all of that. That is why I look forward (to these qualifiers) having come off the games we played at the World Cup. I feel we have a much more experience under our belts. 

“In terms of our depth as a team, it is more competitive than it was before when we played that Sweden game.

"We are Irish. We always want people to think 'Jesus, this is not going to be an easy game for us' but at the same time being a competitive team in that environment and understanding the quality in what we can do and what we can get done.”