What to look forward to in 2022
International
31 December 2021

What to look forward to in 2022

It's set to be another busy year for Welsh football on the international and domestic front as World Cup qualification for both the men's and women's national teams will be decided in the coming calendar year.

Here's our comprehensive guide to what's coming up in 2022.

 

Cymru – Men's national team

March will inevitably be the month that sets the tone for the year ahead for Cymru as Rob Page's side take on Austria at the Cardiff City Stadium on 24 March ahead of a potential final against Scotland or Ukraine at the same venue on 29 March. Two victories will confirm Cymru a place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar scheduled to take place in November and December. This is the first time that Cymru have competed in the World Cup play-offs since 1958, and success on that occasion took them to the finals for their one and only appearance. 

Following the World Cup play-offs Cymru will return to action in June as the third edition of the UEFA Nations League opens with four games as the side take on Poland (a), Netherlands (h), Belgium (h) and Netherlands (a) in the space of just 11 days. Cymru are competing in League A following their promotion last time around, and the league stage of competition will culminate in September with fixtures against Belgium (a) and Poland (h). The World Cup in Qatar will be played between 21 November and 18 December, while the draw for UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying will take place on 9 October with the fixtures scheduled for March 2023.

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Cymru – Women's national team

Gemma Grainger's Cymru currently sit in second place in their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying group after six games. Favourites France currently lead Group I after defeating Cymru 2-0 in a closely contested fixture in Guingamp back in November and now hold a five-point advantage over their nearest rivals, while Cymru are two-points ahead of Slovenia. The group winners will automatically qualify for the finals that will take place in Australia and New Zealand in 2023 while the runners-up will enter the play-offs. 

Cymru will now play their remaining four matches over the course of 2022 with the reverse fixture against France marking their return to competitive international action on 8 April before the side make the long journey to Kazakhstan four days later. The side will then travel to Greece on 2 September before hosting Slovenia in their final group match on 6 September. Should Cymru qualify for the play-offs as runners-up in the group, the decisive fixtures will take place between 3 and 11 October. 

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The domestic game

The first silverware of the season will be claimed on 6 February when Connah's Quay Nomads take on Cardiff Met in the Nathaniel MG Cup final at the SDM Glass Stadium, the home of Penybont FC. The Nomads were the last team to lift the trophy in 2020 while Cardiff Met were the previous winners in 2019. Meanwhile, the final of the JD Welsh Cup is scheduled to take place on the weekend of 30 April.  

Wales will only have three teams competing in European men’s competition when the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers begin in July. The New Saints currently lead the JD Cymru Premier and will be desperate to reclaim their title and the coveted Champions League place having finished behind Connah's Quay Nomads in the last two seasons. 

Meanwhile, the inaugural champions of the new Genero Adran Leagues will be crowned in 2022 across the Premier, North and South divisions. Swansea City, Llandudno and Abergavenny currently lead the way in their respective divisions. 

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Cymru – Men's intermediate teams

Paul Bodin's Cymru U21 team return to EURO qualifying when they take on Switzerland (a) and Bulgaria (h) on 25 and 29 March respectively, and complete the campaign in June with two home games against the Netherlands and Gibraltar. Cymru currently sit in fourth place having taken seven points from their opening six games, but claimed their biggest-ever win in November as they scored seven goals against Gibraltar without reply. 

Having failed to qualify for the Elite round, Rob Edwards' Cymru U19 team will now return to competitive action in September when they host their qualifying group for the 2022/23 EURO finals that will take place in Malta the following year. Cymru have been drawn against the Republic of Ireland, Hungary and Gibraltar in Group 4. The qualifiers will take place between 21 and 27 September with the fixtures and venues to be confirmed in due course.

A successful 2021 for the Cymru U17 side means that Richard Williams' squad will compete in the UEFA Elite round and will now take on Turkey, Serbia and hosts Slovenia between 23 and 29 March for a place at the finals that will take place in Israel in May and June. The side will then return to qualifying action for the next edition of the tournament in October with fixtures against Sweden, Albania and Group 7 hosts Croatia for a place at the 2023 finals that will take place in Hungary.

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Cymru – Women's intermediate teams 

With a new format mirroring that of the UEFA Nations League, the Cymru U19 women's team put in a superb performance under new manager Nicola Anderson at the end of 2021 to earn promotion from League B to League A ahead of Round 2 of the competition that will take place between 6 and 12 April. Cymru have been drawn in League A3 and will take on Iceland, Belgium and hosts England. The seven League A winners will qualify for the finals that will take place in the Czech Republic in June and July. 

Meanwhile, Loren Dykes' Cymru women's U17 team will compete in League B2 and will take on Latvia, Turkey and host nation Armenia when they return to competitive action between 15 and 21 March. The side were relegated from League A last year and will be keen to learn from the experience and come back stronger in order to regain their place amongst the leading teams. 

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