Jayne Ludlow's Cymru side take on the Faroe Islands at Rodney Parade on Thursday (4.30pm) in the first of a crucial home double-header in UEFA EURO qualifying.
UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Qualifying Round
Cymru v Faroe Islands
- 16:30 22/10/20
- Rodney Parade, Newport
- Live on BBC Wales Red Button
The challenge of the group minnows is quickly followed by the visit of group leaders Norway at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday, 27 October, but the focus for the side now is very much on the first match. A hat-trick from Natasha Harding inspired Cymru to a comfortable 6-0 win against the Faroe Islands back in August 2019, but captain Sophie Ingle confirmed to the media on Wednesday that nothing will be taken for granted.
“On paper we should win the game,” said Ingle. “But it's never that simple in football and the girls know that it's an important game for us to get three points going into the Norway game. I think we're going to have the ball more than we're used to and we have to enjoy that. We have to be patient in our build-up play, our possession and getting balls into the box.
“It's about being confident when we have the ball and taking our chances when we have them. We're not taking it for granted within our environment, sometimes it's even harder when teams defend against you and you're not used to playing against teams like that. We are normally the underdogs and that's something we might have thrived on in the past, but our mindset has changed now that we're the second seeds in the group.”
Tottenham Hotspur defender Anna Filbey has been ruled out of both games having suffered an injury for her club against Arsenal at the weekend. “It's obviously a disappointment for us and for Anna but she is injured right now so she is unable to link up on camp,” explained manager Jayne Ludlow. “We were hoping that her injury wouldn't be that bad, but we've had confirmation that it is something that will keep her out for a few weeks, so she won't be involved.”
However, Ludlow also confirmed that the rest of the squad were fit and well having trained at Rodney Parade on the eve of the match, and highlighted the great spirit amongst the players during these uncertain times. “The girls are looking forward to the game and it's great to be back together as a group,” she added.
“It's important for us that we put the best team on the pitch every time we can, but we've got a big squad, and those that get their opportunity on Thursday I hope they enjoy it and do their best. It's a balancing act because we only play a limited number of games every year, but we will potentially be looking to use a big chunk of the squad against the Faroe Islands and then see where we are injury-wise and start preparing for the next game.”
Despite the convincing nature of the victory over the Faroe Islands last year, and the fact that they sit bottom of Group C, Ludlow was complimentary about their squad and their approach to the campaign. “The results haven't gone their way and they are a very small nation, but their play doesn't necessarily show those things. They are a team that want to come out and compete and not just sit on their edge of their box, and when they get the ball, they try to attack.
“Obviously, they have a very limited competitive environment, a limited player pool and limited finances, but they come to compete. When you see them play you realise they're a group of players that love to play the game. We enjoyed the game against them last time, and they have a couple of decent players, but they are bottom of the group right now and it is one that we are expected to win.”
Cymru currently sit in second place in Group C with three home games remaining against the Faroe Islands, Norway and Belarus. The nine group winners and the three runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their respective groups will join hosts England in the 16-team finals that will now take place in the summer of 2022. The other six nations in the runners-up positions will play off for the remaining three qualification places.