Impetus’ Martin Townley was in today’s Wales media conference and heard from head coach Gemma Grainger and captain Sophie Ingle (27/6/22).
Above: Gemma Grainger at today’s media conference. Photo: FAW.
Wales manager Gemma Grainger spoke to the media ahead of her side’s friendly international against New Zealand. The match on Tuesday will take place in Pinata, Spain where the squad has been enjoying some warm weather training.
“Since we travelled out last Wednesday, we’ve had a real opportunity to enjoy some time together both on and off the pitch. “That was always the plan really to come to pinata was that we had that time, which we haven’t really had as a team before.”
This camp is the last time the squad will get together before they face Greece and Slovenia in their final World Cup Qualifiers. Wales, who are second in their group will make the playoffs if they can win the two games and Grainger is using the time to keep improving her side.
“It’s given us an opportunity to speak about some key themes that we want to talk about as a team to take on to the pitch and really continue our improvement as a team on and off the pitch.
“So, the week is a week has been great, it is hot, I think we knew it was going to be hard. There’s an enjoyment part to that when we’re not training. But then when we are training, we obviously have planned for the heat.
“It’s been quite a nice opportunity to do a different type of session, you know, a different type of coaching session, because when it is hot, we do get the opportunity to you know, to talk a little bit more whereas, sometimes in the cold, we must move things on quite quickly. So nice relaxed vibe, but preparation going well so far.”
Grainger has continued playing opposition of a higher ranking in friendly games with New Zealand ranked 22nd in the current FIFA rankings. “We’ll play a higher-ranked opposition, but what we’re hoping to get out of it is a competitive game.
“We want to utilise the game to continue our progress. And with preparation for September in mind, you know, New Zealand will be an opportunity to play a higher-ranked nation. And then that will build into the September prep nicely.
With the option to use up to six substitutions in this game the Wales manager will make use of all options, believing that the squad depth she has available is exciting.
“When we had the development camp on Monday and Tuesday, we’re really starting to explore and learn more about the whole group, because what we do know is that player depth and squad depth is a real sign and correlation between successful teams.
“You know, when I look at the teams in the European Championships this summer, and the teams that people tip to win it, there’s no clear favourite, but the teams that have the best depth, there’s a good opportunity for those teams”
Grainger also praised the way the New Zealand side will play and that she is excited for the game
“You know, they like to play football, which is a credit to them, they have a real clear playing style in terms of how they want to play. They have some fantastic qualities, both in and out of possession. And they’re an opposition and we’re excited to test ourselves against”
The last meeting of the sides saw Wales win a close game 1-0 with Kayleigh Green getting the winning goal.
Wales captain Sophie Ingle spoke about the positives and challenges of how Wales’ warm-weather training camp today.
“Yeah, it has been nice. Obviously, it’s always helps training when it’s warm weather, but it’s tough as well, because it’s a bit warmer. And, you know, we’re out of season. So that heat kind of gets to us a little bit quicker than it usually would.
“Away from football pitches, we’ve done some team bonding activities, down the beach, and just to get out the hotel and enjoy the nice weather.”
Ingle will lead Wales into their final World Cup qualifying games in September and revealed that the squad have been using this time to prepare for those games.
“Yeah, more prep for September. I think the girls know that. Obviously, we’ve got New Zealand to play, and they play potentially a different way to the two teams we’re coming up against, but we can still work on things for September.”
Wales beat the Football Ferns the last time the side met in Cardiff and the Wales captain reflected on what transpired in that encounter.
“I remember a lot of rain! I remember was it Kayleigh Green who scored. “It was quite an even match game. I think we were probably a little bit better in possession than them. But it could have gone either way.”
Wales are playing just one game in this window, but New Zealand travelled to Norway on Saturday losing 2-0. Ada Hegerberg and Guro Bergsvand getting the goals. Ingle is hoping that the busy schedule can work to Wales advantage.
“They’ve travelled to Norway, and then got here yesterday, so hopefully they are a bit fatigued which might work in our favour. But they’re quite direct team, they’re athletic, they like to get it to their number nine, or their striker and kind of play off her.”
“We want to win, and that’s why we play football, but it’s the performance at the end of the day. We’ve worked on a few things this camp on the training pitch. That’s kind of what I want to see that comes out in this game, that the things we’ve worked out on the training pitches, we’ve been able to transfer into a game situation.”
With two big games top come in the Autumn, Ingle emphasised what making the World Cup in 2023 would mean the world to her.
“It would obviously mean the world to me and the girls if we do qualify for the World Cup. You know, not just the World Cup, we want to go on to then qualify for the next Euros and so on and so on.
“We want to put Welsh women’s football on the map. I think we’re going in the right direction.”