Grainger: “We are hard for anyone”

Martin Townley reports from Cymru head coach Gemma Grainger‘s media conference after their UEFA Women’s Nations League draw (3/5/23).

Above: Cymru boss Gemma Grainger. Photo: FAW.

Cymru head coach Gemma Grainger told the media after the UEFA Nations League draw that her side will be hard for any opponent to face. 

Grainger believes strongly that this also includes her side’s upcoming friendly against the USA in July. 

“I think that we’re a hard team for anyone to play because we are resilient from a defensive perspective, we pride ourselves on that. But now we’re really starting to implement more consistently our in possession style of play. So, we’re a great test. And I hope that’s what we can be for them.”

Cymru will face Denmark, Germany, and Iceland in the inaugural UEFA Women’s Nations League.  Grainger’s team last faced Iceland back in February, a match that ended in a goalless draw.  Their last meeting with Denmark came in April 2021, in what was Grainger’s second game.  Jess Fishlock scored in a 1-1 friendly draw.  Germany will provide the toughest test for Cymru, with the sides not meeting since 2008. 

With the Nations League being played before the Euro 2025 qualifiers, the Cymru boss outlined what she wants from this challenging series of matches.

“We want to learn what we need to learn. And we want to make sure that we keep progressing as a team, and that’s what the Nations League has got to do for us, we’ve got to go into those games with the mentality that we’ve had, since the Switzerland game.

“Since last October, that mentality, that shift, keep building on our style of play, and make sure that when playing these games, that we represent everything that we’ve been building, because that’s how we will qualify for the European Championships.”

The Nations League will be a welcome return to competitive matches after Cymru missed out on World Cup qualification. The side have played six friendlies since then without defeat, but Grainger will welcome the return of competitive matches.   

“I think after the Switzerland game and the intensity that we worked at throughout the World Cup campaign. You can’t put a foot wrong during those campaigns, we knew what we had to do in every game, and the intensity, and the mentality is high.

“I think it’s been a nice opportunity to lower that a little bit. Not in terms of our performances, but in terms of our approach and the review after the World Cup campaign.

“So, we’ve certainly utilised our time well. I’m happy with the friendly fixtures that we’ve played during that time, and the challenges that they’ve given us, and I know that US will be hopefully the next step towards that.

“I think it’s been a real balance; it can be very intense in competition. But I think we know we’ve had that break, and we’re hungry to make sure that we step into September and be ready to compete.

With Euro 2022 finalist Germany being paired with Cymru, Grainger is hopeful of more record-breaking nights in Cardiff with the nation’s last two games at Cardiff City Stadium seeing a record attendance and a record attendance for a friendly. 

“I know that they’re (Germany) the highest-ranked team in the group. So naturally, they will hopefully bring in the crowds. I think that really will support us because we play at our best when we are in Cardiff when we do have the crowd there.

“It’s exciting to think what we could do in that space; we keep breaking those records in terms of attendance. I’m excited to see when Germany do come to play, and hopefully, we can make sure we break that (attendance) record again.”

The UEFA Nations League will begin in September. 

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