Northern Ireland Women manager Kenny Shiels has received the full backing of his squad after saying “woman are more emotional than men” following a 5-0 defeat to England Women.
The heavy defeat meant Northern Ireland cannot qualify for next year’s Women’s World Cup.
Shiels said after the loss: "I thought they were struggling a wee bit at times to open us up until the psychology of going two up. In the women's game, you'll have noticed if you go through the patterns, when a team concedes a goal they concede a second one within a very short period of time.
England come from behind for impressive win as Bronze, Mead, Toone and Hemp score
24/06/2022 AT 18:08
"Right through the whole spectrum of the women's game, because girls and women are more emotional than men, so they take a goal going in not very well.
"So if you watch, if you go through the stats - which journalists love to do - go through stats and you'll see teams conceding goals in 18 and 21 minutes, and then in 64 and 68 minutes.
"They group them because that is an emotional goal.”
Shiels apologised for his comment after a meeting with the Irish FA. On Thursday, captain Marissa Callaghan said in a statement that the squad "collectively stand by our manager".
She said: "In light of recent events, collectively we stand by our manager. We feel his interview was in relation to a meeting we had as a team where we analysed that we concede goals in quick succession and emotions was one of the many things we discussed.
"Since Kenny took over the national team three years ago, I have always complimented him publicly on how he can get the best out of his players individually and collectively. He is a man of integrity who cares for us like we are family.
"Kenny has transformed the game here in Northern Ireland because he understands how to get the best out of his players. We have qualified for a major tournament because he transformed our mindset.
"We look forward to the next few months as we continue to prepare for the Euros this summer.
“Selling out the national stadium has been a pivotal moment for the game here in Northern Ireland and we as players and staff will continue as a team to help grow the game and inspire the next generation of young players and fans."
Northern Ireland, who have been drawn in the same group as England at the European Championships this summer, begin their tournament against Norway on July 7.
England beat Belgium in Euro 2022 warm-up - as it happened
16/06/2022 AT 18:06
UEFA Women's Championship
Houghton faces nervous wait as England prepare to announce Euro 2022 squad
15/06/2022 AT 10:02