A 4-0 victory over the Faroe Islands on Thursday provided Jayne Ludlow and her squad with the perfect preparation for Tuesday's crucial UEFA Women's EURO 2022 qualifier against Norway at the Cardiff City Stadium (4.30pm).
UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Qualifying Round
Cymru v Norway
- 16:30 Tuesday 27 October
- Cardiff City Stadium
- Live on BBC Two Wales
Goals from Helen Ward, a brace from Natasha Harding and a fine finish on her debut from substitute Lily Woodham saw Cymru claim a comfortable victory over the group minnows at Rodney Parade, but a very different challenge awaits as the group leaders head to the capital.
“We've got an even bigger game coming up which we are obviously looking forward to now,” explained Ludlow after the victory. “Parts of the game will overlap, but there's lots that won't. For us now it's about our recovery and moving on to the next game plan, but we've got happy players who are looking forward to the challenge, and it is going to be one heck of a challenge.
“But we want our future to be in our own hands so we have to make sure we do the job on Tuesday. We have to switch mindsets now and get everyone fit and well and ready to go. The big focus has to be on maintaining our discipline and to be organised. There will be points in the game where we will create opportunities, and we have to take our finishing from the Faroe Islands win into the game on Tuesday.”
Cymru suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Norway in Oslo last month, with midfielder Guro Reiten scoring the only goal of the game. However, the performance from Cymru showed just how far the side have progressed in recent years, and the number of chances that the side created suggested that the result could have been very different on another day.
“We were disappointed with the Norway result,” explained influential midfielder Angharad James recently. “That's the first time we've come off the pitch losing 1-0 to a top seeded team that we've felt that way, which shows the level we feel we're at now. The way we played at times during that game, we've never played that way against top nations before.
“As a group we've never struggled with the belief within ourselves. Outside of our group, people have probably questioned us, but against Norway last month we created so many chances, it showed how close we are to competing with the top teams around us. We're going to take that positivity and belief into the next game.”
Norway have enjoyed a perfect qualifying campaign in Group C to date, winning all five games and scoring a massive 33 goals in the process. Cymru currently sit in second place, four points behind the group leaders, but having played a game more. While Norway remain clear favourites to win the group, Ludlow and her squad will be aiming to cement second place by finishing above Belarus, the team they play at home in their final match in December.
The EURO 2022 finals will involve 16 nations and will take place in England between 6 and 31 July. England receive a bye to the finals while the remaining entrants are competing in nine groups of five and six. The nine group winners and the three runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their section qualify directly. The other six runners-up will play off for the remaining three finals slots.