Match Hub: Estonia v Cymru
International
20 September 2021

Match Hub: Estonia v Cymru

THE TEAMS ARE IN

21 September 20214:47pm

Cymru manager Gemma Grainger has named an unchanged starting line-up for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier against Estonia in Parnu.

Following the convincing 6-0 win and dominant performance against Kazakhstan on Friday, Grainger is expecting another strong showing from her side as she comes up against former Cymru manager Jarmo Matikainen.

Follow @Cymru for live updates throughout the match and check back here later for all the post-match reaction.

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CYMRU ARRIVE IN ESTONIA

20 September 20216:42pm

Gemma Grainger and her Cymru squad touched down in Estonia earlier this evening ahead of their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Group I qualifier in Parnu on Tuesday (6pm).

"We've got to focus on creating chances," explained Grainger. "Against Kazakhstan we created a lot of chances and we want to keep developing our in-possession style of play. Ultimately it's about our players expressing themselves and playing to their strengths. 

"We have to go into every game and deliver our game plan. Our focus is on the process and the performance, because if that's right then we will compete and qualify for major tournaments."

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WARD CONFIDENT FOR WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN

20 September 20215:17pm

All-time leading goalscorer Helen Ward came off the bench on Friday night as Cymru enjoyed a perfect start to 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying with a 6-0 win over Kazakhstan.

Now 35, Ward (below) made her 94th appearance for her country in the win, and is now targeting qualification for the finals that will take place in New Zealand and Australia after coming so close in recent campaigns. "For some of us it maybe a feeling of now or never, but in a good way because we do feel like this is the best position we've been in for a long time," she explained to BBC Sport.

"Obviously age is just a number, but if we were to get to the World Cup in 2023 then I'll be 37 so that's a bit of a frightening thought. But the body's an amazing thing and if we did get there I'd do as much as I can to be part of that squad and in as good a physical condition as I can be. But at the moment I'm just enjoying it and enjoying being part of this group and this team so hopefully we can do the job."

The campaign continues against Estonia in Parnu on Tuesday where Ward will be reunited with a familiar face in the opposition dugout. Former Cymru manager Jarmo Matikainen is the current Head Coach of Estonia and played a pivotal role in taking the women's national team through their early steps towards a professional future following his appointment in 2010. Estonia began their campaign on Friday with a 4-0 defeat against Slovenia.

Click here for the full interview with Helen Ward on the BBC Sport website

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GRAINGER FOCUSED ON ESTONIA CHALLENGE

19 September 20216:28pm

Cymru manager Gemma Grainger was not getting carried away on Friday after her side claimed a 6-0 win over Kazakhstan in her first competitive match.

"I feel like we have set a standard, our standard," said Grainger after the match. "One of the things we want to do is keep delivering to our standards in every single game. I think we have started that tonight. 

"We want to keep learning, keep getting better. We want to enjoy tonight, but we are also going to make sure that tomorrow morning we're very focused on trying to make sure it's even better on Tuesday."

The victory offered Cymru a perfect start to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign, and now the side take on Estonia in their second Group I match in Parnu on Tuesday (6pm).

Meanwhile, group rivals France made a strong statement on Friday as they defeated Greece 10-0. Elsewhere, Slovenia claimed a 4-0 win over Estonia.

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THE TEAMS ARE IN

17 September 20215:20pm

Gemma Grainger has named a strong starting line-up for her first competitive match as Cymru manager as 2023 FIFA World Cup qualifying begins against Kazakhstan at Parc Y Scarlets this evening (7.15pm).

Sophie Ingle captains the side and is expected to line-up alongside Jess Fishlock and Angahard James in the middle of midfield while Kayleigh Green will lead from the front.

Follow @Cymru for live updates and check here later for the post-match reaction.

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ROWE PICKS THE MUSIC

16 September 20217:02pm

Cymru forward Rachel Rowe has selected the pre-match songs to be played at Parc y Scarlets ahead of Friday's match against Kazakhstan. 

The songs will be selected from this Spotify playlist that she's put together. To access the full list, click the Spotify logo. 

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

16 September 20215:22pm

There have been four previous meetings between Cymru and Kazakhstan during the last few years after the two nations were drawn together in UEFA Women's EURO 2017 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying.

Striker Helen Ward came off the bench to score a hat-trick for Cymru in a 4-0 win over Kazakhstan at Haverfordwest in November 2015, and the score was repeated in the return match as Kayleigh Green and Ward both scored a brace in Shymkent.

However, Cymru had to work harder for victory over Kazakhstan in the next qualifying campaign, and a superb strike from Jess Fishlock (below) proved to be the difference in Astana when the two teams met in September 2017. Likewise, Hayley Ladd scored a late winner a couple of months later as Cymru registered another 1-0 win in Cardiff. In addition, Cymru also claimed a 2-1 win away to Kazakhstan back in November 2006. 

After initially competing in Asia during the 1990's, Kazakhstan became part of UEFA in 2001. Currently at their lowest position in the FIFA rankings having dropped down to 82nd last month, Kazakhstan lost all eight of their UEFA Women's EURO 2022 qualifying games to finish bottom of Group G, losing 12-0 to France in their last competitive match.

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HAYLEY LADD TALKS ALL THINGS CYMRU

16 September 20215:12pm

Cymru star Hayley Ladd discusses a wide-range of topics in her first column for the BBC Sport website this week ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign.

"We feel this is a massive campaign for us and we are absolutely desperate to reach a major tournament," said Ladd. "We are absolutely raring to go. All of us are completely focused on playing in a World Cup for Wales."

Ladd also talks about the impression that new manager Gemma Grainger has had on the squad, the influence of Jess Fishlock, and the elite training facilities that the team now have access to on each international camp.

Click here to read Hayley Ladd's first column on the BBC Sport website

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MEET THE REF

16 September 20216:32am

Monika Mularczyk of Poland will take charge of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Group I qualifier between Cymru and Kazakhstan on Friday night.

The 40 year old PE teacher from Skierniewice has been a FIFA official since 2008 and became the first female referee from Poland to officiate at a major tournament when she was selected for the UEFA Women's EURO 2017 finals in the Netherlands.

Mularczyk previously refereed at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli during the summer of 2013 when she was selected for the UEFA U19 Championship, taking charge of the final between England and France.

Anna Dabrowska and Martyna Koziel are the assistant referees while Michalina Diakow is the fourth official. All of the officials are from Poland.

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING EXPLAINED

15 September 20214:41pm

The draw for 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying took place on 30 April with Cymru drawn in Group I alongside France, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece and Kazakhstan.

"They're all different and all of the games will be challenging in different ways," said manager Gemma Grainger following the draw. "For me, there's never any easy games in international football. Every team has their own strengths and their own weaknesses, but the focus for us is on ourselves."

France are the top seeds and reached the semi-finals of the competition in 2011, and are the only team in the group that have played at the finals of a major tournament. Meanwhile, Estonia are coached by former Cymru manager Jarmo Matikainen. The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup finals will be held in New Zealand and Australia.

The nine group winners will qualify for the finals while the nine runners-up will compete in the play-offs that will take place in October 2022 with a further two teams directly progressing to the finals via that route. A third team from the UEFA play-offs will then compete in the inter-confederation play-offs, which will be a tournament of ten teams from the six FIFA confederations to decide the remaining three places.

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SQUAD UPDATE

15 September 20214:30pm

Cymru manager Gemma Grainger has named a strong squad for her first taste of competitive international action since her appointment in March.

Following the squad announcement, Leicester City striker Hannah Cain has been ruled out with a foot injury and has been replaced by 19-year old Morgan Rogers of Tottenham Hotspur. This will be Rogers' first experience with the senior squad having progressed through the U17 and U19 teams.

Meanwhile, BBC Cymru Wales have announced that the entire campaign will be shown live. "When I was a young girl starting out on my footballing journey, there was never any women's football on TV," said Cymru captain Sophie Ingle.

"Having our 2023 World Cup qualifying games broadcast live on BBC Wales will show the future generation that there is a pathway and we hope we can inspire more girls to play the game."

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Gemma Granger's Cymru begin their quest for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup on Friday (17 September) against Kazakhstan in Llanelli before the side head to Parnu to take on Estonia on Tuesday (21 September).

The match against Kazakhstan at Parc Y Scarlets kicks off at 7.15pm with tickets available from FAW.Cymru/tickets.

The Match Hub brings you all the latest information and news from the Cymru camp ahead of both fixtures, so please keep checking this page regularly.