All eyes are on England as the fate of the Irish play-offs is clarified

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The Republic of Ireland will be hoping their English neighbors can do them a big favor this afternoon when they take on Austria at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt in Vienna.

Ireland secured a place in the World Cup play-offs on Thursday night with a 1-0 win over Finland.

The complex format means Vera Pauw’s side don’t yet know whether they’ll be in Round 1 or Round 2 of the October play-offs, but things will become clearer by tonight.

If England beat the Austrians (4.30pm kick-off), Ireland will know that a win against Slovakia on Tuesday will send them straight to Round 2.

Indeed, the three best runners-up from the nine qualifying groups are exempt from Round 2, with the other six teams scheduled to play three Round 1 matches on October 6.

The two winners of the second round matches with the best ranking (based on the results of the qualifying group stage and the second round matches) advance to the World Cup final.

The winner of the remaining play-offs will go to the Inter-Confederation play-offs February 17-23 in New Zealand. They will be placed in a three-team group with two of the following teams: Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti, Panama, Chile, Papa New Guinea.

Winning your Inter-Confederation play-off group grants you access to the World Cup.

There was joy at Tallaght Stadium after Lily Agg’s header helped Ireland take all three points against the Finns and secure second place in Group A, but Pauw warned afterwards: “We We’re not there yet. We have to win in Slovakia to have a chance to skip the first round. So we’ll prepare as seriously as necessary for that.”

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