Northern Ireland: IFA chief Nelson says Euro 2022 qualifiers can look forward to playing at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland's goalscorers Nadene Caldwell and Marissa Callaghan speak to BBC Sport NI

Northern Ireland women's team can look forward to playing future home games at Windsor Park following their historic qualification for Euro 2022, says Irish FA chief Patrick Nelson.

News of a new contract for manager Kenny Shiels also emerged after the Euro 2022 play-off win over Ukraine.

"The girls can play wherever they want whenever they win tonight," said Nelson at half-time in Tuesday's second leg.

A 2-0 win over Ukraine at Seaview completed a 4-1 aggregate success.

Northern Ireland have played all their recent competitive games at Seaview following an earlier stint at Mourneview Park but Shiels' side can now anticipate future action in the National Stadium after the country's first qualification for a major women's finals.

Shiels has been happy for his side to play their home games on the relatively tight artificial Seaview pitch but their increasing status means Windsor Park contests now appear on the horizon for his players.

"We could have certainly filled Seaview tonight," Nelson told BBC Sport Northern Ireland at Crusaders' North Belfast ground which has a capacity of just over 3,200.

Highlights: Northern Ireland 2-0 Ukraine

Uefa is yet to announce when the Euro 2022 draw will take place after the original date had to be postponed because of the global pandemic.

Northern Ireland, as the lowest-ranked team of the 16 qualifiers, will be in pot four.

Europe's top-ranked 13 countries have secured spots at the finals in England with Russia (15th), Finland (16th) and the 27th-rated Northern Irish the other qualifiers.

Asked about Shiels' new contract which will run to the end of 2023, the Irish FA chief executive said the Maghera man "has added a huge dose of professionalism" to the squad.

"Kenny is the sort of guy that second best is never good enough. He's transmitted that to the girls and they've really taken it on."

Manager Kenny Shiels on NI reaching Euro 2022

Shiels, 64, replaced Alfie Wylie as boss in May 2019 and said he felt "really good" about agreeing a new deal.

"I want to contribute more and develop the under-19s' best players, who have been with us for over a year now and they have developed to a really good level.

"Some of them are blossoming and almost ready to come in later down the line when we come back in June.

"We will gradually drip feed them back into the squad, so that they become the next Julie (Nelson), or the next Ash (Hutton) - whoever it may be."

IFA chief Nelson added that the governing body is set to put "more time, effort and money" into the women's game which will include appointing a full-time head of women's football at the association.

"We've worked hard on it so far and we've made great strides off the field as well.

"We've going to have a director of women's football in the near future. It's going to be a really exciting role which drives women's football forward and we're looking for a great person to do that."

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