The Cymru U21 team return to qualifying action this week as Paul Bodin's side take on Moldova at the District Sports Complex in Orhei on Friday, 11th October (3pm).
Moldova U21 v Cymru U21
- KO 15:00 BST
- Orhei, Moldova
Watch live on the Moldovan FA website
Bodin recently stepped-up from his role with the U19 team following Rob Page's appointment with the senior team, and made an immediate impression in the opening Group 9 fixture last month as an early goal from Brennan Johnson proved to be the difference against Belgium. “Certainly on the night, every man, including the subs, all played their part in what was a fantastic win,” Bodin told FAW.cymru about the 1-0 victory in Wrexham. “It was a pleasure to be with the boys during the week, and ultimately, I was very pleased with the performance.”
However, a 5-1 reverse to Germany followed at the Racecourse a few days later. “It was probably a bit too much for us in a short space of time,” explained Bodin. “For 20 minutes, before they scored the first goal, we were very much in the game and we were causing them a few problems. But they're a well-oiled team, they've been together for a long time, they all know each other probably a little bit better than us. Physically, they were older than a lot of our players. They are a very good team and they are the group favourites. Having watched them before the game, I expected a tough game, and that's exactly what we got. They were very clinical at both ends of the pitch.”
But while results matter for Bodin and his Cymru side, the ultimate goal is to continue producing players for the senior squad, and the number of players that have progressed on that pathway in recent years proves that the plan is working well. Regan Poole is the latest player to move up to the senior ranks, while Bodin will also be without Ben Woodburn and Liam Cullen through injury. As a result, Siôn Spence, Keiran Evans and Joe Lewis have been added to the U21 squad.
"Perhaps we will be the favourites for this game, we certainly haven't been in the last two games,” Bodin added. “Moldova have lost their last two fixtures, against Bosnia 4-0 back in March, but the pitch was barely playable due to a lot of surface water, so it was a hard game to judge really. Recently they played against Italy and were beaten 4-0 again, but Italy are very strong.
“Moldova are well-organised, they drop very deep and make it very difficult, which is something we didn't come up against with Belgium and Germany. We will have a lot more possession, but we will have to be creative and inventive in the final third. Hopefully, we can get a goal early, then that will settle us down and we can play some football. But they're a threat, they work extremely hard, they try and break on the counter very quickly, and we certainly don't want to allow them to score as that will give them something to hold onto.”