Wales claim sixth place in Slovakia Cup
11 May 2018

Wales claim sixth place in Slovakia Cup

Paul Bodin's U19 side ended their Slovakia Cup campaign in sixth place, but the manager believes the lessons learnt from the competition will prove to be the overriding positive from the experience for his young squad.

“It's an intense competition against really good opposition,” explained Bodin to “It has been physically demanding as well as technically and tactically demanding.

"You can't replicate that. Four games in five days is fantastic for the players. We've seen some players come through with flying colours, but some haven't quite been able to perform for one reason or another.”

Wales completed their campaign on Friday with a disappointing 5-0 defeat against Ukraine in Jaslovska Bohunice.

The defeat meant that Wales would finish the tournament above Hungary and Kazakhstan, but Bodin was frustrated that his players failed to reach the bar that had been set the day before in the 1-0 victory over the Hungarians. 

“It was back to the first two games where we made elementary mistakes,” Bodin added, referring to the opening defeats against Slovakia and Azerbaijan. “We changed the team around again, which isn't ideal, but we wanted to give everybody a fair amount of minutes.

"We set the standard against Hungary, but we didn't live up to the expectation today. There were too many individual mistakes, and to be fair to Ukraine, they punished us at every opportunity.”

Ukraine enjoyed the perfect start to the match when a Ivan Zhelizko capitalised on some good work on the right side of the field to slot the ball past goalkeeper Adam Przybek.

It prove to be a busy half for the goalkeeper, as minutes later he had to be at his best to deny Danylo Sikan from increasing the lead. However, Wales settled into the match, and chances fell to Mason Jones-Thomas and Sam Bowen inside the opening 20 minutes.

Paul Bodin looks on from the sidelines.
Paul Bodin looks on from the sidelines.

After a period of sustained pressure, Ukraine increased their lead on 25 minutes when Ievgenii Isainko slotted a penalty past Przybek to double the advantage.

Lewis Collins almost brought Wales back into the match before half-time, but his long-range effort was saved by goalkeeper Dany Junior Ltaif.

Wales enjoyed a better start to the second half, with Isaak Davies and Bowen coming close to reducing the deficit before the hour mark. However, it proved to be a false dawn for Wales as a goal from Artem Kholod on 64 minutes put the game out Wales' reach, and a late brace from Danylo Sakin completed the scoring inside the final 10 minutes. 

Host nation Slovakia claimed the trophy on Friday afternoon with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic, with Bodin and his backroom staff interested observers at the Slovakian National Training Centre in Senec.

“We've learnt an awful lot,” he added. “I've learnt an awful lot about the players, and I think they've learnt how they need to be a little bit more professional and knowledgeable. But I'm positive, the signs are good, and I'm sure we can be stronger moving forward.”

The Wales U19 team ahead of the match against Ukraine.
The Wales U19 team ahead of the match against Ukraine.