Jayne Ludlow's Cymru take on Belarus at Rodney Parade on Tuesday evening in their final match of the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 qualifying campaign (19:10).
UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Qualifying Round
Cymru v Belarus
- 19:10 Tuesday 1 December
- Rodney Parade, Newport
- Live on BBC Two Wales
However, qualification is now very much out of Cymru hands following Northern Ireland's 3-2 win over Belarus on Friday. The victory moved Northern Ireland into second place in the group, and they now only need to match or better Cymru's result against Belarus on Tuesday when they take on the Faroe Islands in Belfast due to the fact that they have the head-to-head advantage.
“Obviously we're disappointed and frustrated at the way it's panned out,” explained Jess Fishlock when the midfielder spoke to the media on Sunday. “We also completely understand and take responsibility for how it got to this. We never wanted it to be out of our own hands, and so right now it's important that we regroup and focus on moving forward. But the camp has been good for us and we're already looking forward to the next campaign.”
A 2-2 draw against Northern Ireland in Newport and a 0-0 draw in Belfast back in 2019 were the crucial games for Cymru, and the focus for the side now must be to ensure they win against Belarus in the hope that the Faroe Islands can claim a shock result. Rachel Rowe was the hero in the 1-0 win against Belarus in Borisov in October 2019 when she marked her return from injury with the only goal of the game.
But while there is a frustration over the group situation, the performances from Jayne Ludlow's side in the two 1-0 defeats to group winners Norway in the last couple of months offer plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future. “The games against Northern Ireland were games we would have liked to have won,” added Fishlock. “But the games against Norway showed how close we are to competing with the top, top teams.
“The only way you get through this is by having honest conversations. A lot of us knew after the Northern Ireland game that it was going to be out of our hands. We've had those conversations and the outcome bodes very well for the future. We need to be better in our performances and our game management. There is an element to us that has improved but there are elements that haven't.
“We have a really good squad right now, and we're just going to focus on ourselves and on putting in a good performance on Tuesday to move into the next campaign. We want to finish this campaign on a high. I have no intention of retiring at this moment. Mentally, physically and emotionally I am still 100% here with this group and with Wales. Until that changes I am always going to be available for my country.
“We feel this is a really good squad right now and probably the best group of 18 to 22 players that we have had collectively for a long time. A lot of that comes from the youth and Jayne has done a great job of bringing through players that quite frankly can start to play right now. It will be up to us as senior players to support them with that transition.”
The only points that Belarus have collected in the campaign came at the expense of the Faroe Islands as they claimed two victories over the bottom seeds. The match against Belarus on Tuesday evening will again be played behind closed doors but will be shown live on BBC Two Wales.
The UEFA Women's 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.