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Estonia chase promotion in UEFA Women's Nations League tie with Israel

The Estonian women's national team in preparation for the game with Israel.
The Estonian women's national team in preparation for the game with Israel. Source: ERR

The Estonian women's national football team are in action on Tuesday, as they take on Israel in their final UEFA Women's Nations League Division C group game. Due to the Israel – Hamas conflict, the game is taking place in Hungary.

After defeating Kazakhstan 1-0 in Astana on Friday, the Estonian side took a long flight to Hungary straight after the match. On Tuesday, they will be up against a strong Israeli side at the Globall Football Park in Telki, just outside Budapest.

"I don't think we are focused so much on our opponent, but on our own game. Maybe in terms of our opponent's formation and their pressing, but our own game is still the most important thing," said Estonian national team goalkeeper Karina Kork (IFK Kalmar).

With Kazakhstan recently drawing 0-0 against group leaders Israel, Kork believes Estonia stand a good chance of getting a positive result on Tuesday. "If Kazakhstan were able to do that already and if we look at the results - we beat Kazakhstan, then why can't we take on Israel as equals?" the goalkeeper said.

With three wins and a draw from their Nations League campaign so far, Estonia are currently second in the table, three points behind Israel. Their only loss so far was 0-5 at home to Tuesday night's opponents back in September. However, largely as a result of that, Estonia go into the final group game with a vastly inferior goal difference, meaning even a win might not be enough to guarantee top spot.

According to captain Kairi Himanen (Saku Sporting), the team is going into the final group game in a positive frame of mind. "I think the mood in the team is very good. We're really happy with the points we got in Kazakhstan in a hard-fought game and very conscious of the goals and the way that could help us to qualify for League B," said Himanen.

The top three teams across the five sub-groups in League C will automatically be promoted to League B for the next edition of the Women's Nations League. The three best-ranked third-placed teams in League B will play the three best-ranked League C runners-up, with the winners of those games also earning a place in League B.

Estonia are currently the fourth-ranked second-placed team in Group C, behind Latvia, Georgia and Bulgaria, meaning they would miss out on a play-off spot. However, that can all change depending on the results in the final round of matches.

According to Kork, the team is trying not to pay too much attention to the potential promotion scenarios. "To a certain extent, we are still aware of where we stand and what we have to do," said the goalkeeper. However, she said it is not the case that everyone is running around the team hotel trying to work out how all the different results might affect the final standings.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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