Home SPORTS Women’s Nations League: Wales use Chris Coleman wisdom to find Iceland win

Women’s Nations League: Wales use Chris Coleman wisdom to find Iceland win

Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Friday, 1 December Kick-off: 19:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website & app & live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app.

Wales manager Gemma Grainger is hoping a talk from former Wales men’s manager Chris Coleman can help her side to avoid Nations League relegation.

Wales must beat Iceland at the Cardiff City Stadium to avoid being relegated with one game to spare in their group.

A victory by a two-goal margin would likely mean Wales avoid relegation.

“For Chris to speak to the girls was great. He talked around when the team suffered and what that allowed them to do with ‘Together Stronger’,” she said.

Coleman managed Wales from 2012 to 2017, taking over following the tragic death of his friend Gary Speed.

At one point Coleman was thought to be close to being sacked as Wales boss, but he led the team to Euro 2016 – their first major finals since the 1958 World Cup – with Wales ending up the surprise package of the competition as they reached the semi-final.

“We were fortunate enough to spend some time with Chris Coleman and talked to him about some of the work he did with the men’s team, because that journey is so similar to ours,” Grainger explained.

“Mindset and mentality is a real focus for us.

“He talked about the criticism they had and how that is a natural part of when a team is successful.

“For me criticism is great as it shows you are moving in a direction where people are talking about you as a team.

“It was a pleasure for me and the players to get to speak to him.”

Grainger and her team have received criticism from some ex-Wales players after a disappointing Nations League campaign where they have yet to earn a point.

However, captain Sophie Ingle – who recently broke the Women’s Super League appearance record – believes Wales are benefitting from competing against top-tier sides, with Germany and Denmark currently battling to win the group.

“We don’t listen too much to our critics. We know in-house what we are trying to do,” Ingle told BBC Sport Wales.

“We are preparing for trying to qualify for the Euros and trying to stay in League A of the Nations League.

“We are playing against top-tier opposition in every game and I think people in the outside world tend to forget that, they play in major tournaments year in and year out.

“We want to keep playing the top teams, that’s where you test yourself.

“We are learning a lot at the moment, it is only benefitting us.”

What do Wales need to do to avoid relegation?

Wales produced one of their better performances of the campaign when they were defeated 1-0 by Iceland in September.

If Wales can beat Iceland then they will go above them in the table and will then need to only match Iceland’s result in the final round of matches on Tuesday, when Wales host Germany and Iceland travel to group leaders Denmark.

If Wales finish third, they will will secure a two-leg relegation play-off against a team finishing second in League B in February.

Grainger admits that the scenario makes Friday’s game more about the result than the performance for her side.

“We are looking forward to being at home, travelling in this window is not something we would be looking forward to,” she told BBC Sport Wales.

“This team is excited to play in Cardiff in front of the fans, producing a performance for them is what we are thinking about.

“We will focus on winning. Winning by two goals would mean we would be likely to avoid relegation on head-to-head, but for me it is about the win, be it by one or two goals.

“It is an ideal game for us. When we qualify for the Euros we will go through stages where one-off games matter.”

Ingle says her and her teammates have a point to prove after the disappointment of losing in Reykjavik.

“We were on top for 70-80-90% of the Iceland game and we felt hard done by with the result,” she added.

“We had enough chances that we should have won, it’s a tough one to take, but that’s why we are excited about playing Iceland at home, in front of our own crowd.”

Team news

Grainger is boosted by the return of three key players, with Rangers’ Rachel Rowe returning to the squad after injury.

Leicester forward Hannah Cain and Liverpool’s Ceri Holland – who were both injured in Wales’ 5-1 defeat in Germany in October – also return.

Hearts defender Esther Morgan has been forced to withdraw from the squad with an ankle injury, with Southampton midfielder Megan Wynne replacing her.

Uncapped midfielders Ellen Jones of Sunderland and Morgan Rogers of Billericay could make their Wales debuts if selected.

Iceland are without one of their most influential performers in Wolfsburg’s Champions League-winning winger Sveindis Jonsdottir, who misses out through injury.

Last meeting

Iceland 1-0 Wales (Friday, 22 September)

Watch on iPlayer footer

Source link