Women’s World Cup qualifier: Wales v Bosnia-Herzegovina


Place: Cardiff City Stadium Date: October 6, Thursday Start: 19:15 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, Cymru Fyw, BBC Sport website and app, and live text and score updates on the BBC Sport website and app

Wales manager Gemma Grainger has urged her team to seize the opportunity to make history against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

They are preparing for the biggest game in their history, hoping to reach a major tournament for the first time.

Wales host Bosnia in Cardiff in front of a record crowd as they look to reach the play-off final against Switzerland.

“This is where we wanted to be at the start of this campaign, we’d give anything to be in that position,” he told BBC Sport Wales.

Wales play in front of a record crowd at Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday Having sold more than 14,500 tickets.

Captain Sophie Ingle says the passionate home crowd is a huge boost for her side.

“It’s crazy to think it’s our biggest game and our biggest crowd, it’s amazing to think we’ve broken our record three times this campaign,” he said.

“It’s incredible to be in this position, it’s where we wanted it to be and we have to focus on Bosnia before looking ahead.

“The crowd is great for us, they create a great atmosphere and encourage us, they are really important for us.”

Complicated play-off format

Wales are potentially three games away from the 2023 World Cup due to the tricky nature of the play-offs.

A win over bottom-placed Bosnia in the play-offs would see Wales travel to Switzerland on Tuesday October 11, with the winners of that tie progressing to the World Cup or a final knockout. inter-confederation qualifiers in New Zealand in February.

The winners of the two best-placed playoff finals will qualify for the 2023 World Cup, while the other winners will qualify for the inter-confederation playoffs.

The 10-team inter-confederation qualifier will also feature Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti, Panama, Chile, Paraguay and Papua New Guinea.

Grainger says he is not frustrated that the World Cup is still three games away, although many have argued that World Cup playoffs are too complicated.

“You see, I think it’s exciting for us. It’s very special to have to go through all these stages, it’s playoff football now and that should excite us,” he said.

“Almost winning is stopping, losing and you’re going home, and that’s the championship feeling we haven’t really had as a team.”

Grainger is delighted that VAR will be used for the first time in World Cup qualifying matches.

“It’s very positive for us,” he said.

“If you think about this campaign, we could talk about some of the penalties we should have had. I think it will be positive with the type of players we have.

“It’s a great experience for us as well because VAR will be a part of it in major tournaments. As we’ve seen in the men’s game, you have to manage all the incidents.

“We know the system is there to help both teams, and if we had it during the campaign I think we would have made some decisions that would have changed the outcome of the games.”

On paper, Bosnia represent the best draw Wales could manage, but Grainger won’t underestimate them.

“Everyone thinks Bosnia is a good draw and to be honest they are the lowest ranked team and they drew us at home,” said Grainger.

“But there are no easy play-off games and the biggest mistake we could make is to underestimate Bosnia.”

Natasha Harding (left) has won 103 caps for Wales, while Jess Fishlock (right) is Wales’ most capped player, having played 134 times for Wales.

GROUP NEWS

Wales returns with the return of its most champion and most important player, Jess Fishlock, with the OL Reign who have just won the NWSL title.

The midfielder picked up the injury on duty for Wales at the end of their World Cup qualifying campaign last month and missed their final Group I matches against Greece and Slovenia.

“Having Jess back is a big boost for us. He’s a winner, he brings us a winning mentality,” Grainger said.

“He brings all his experience. He just won the league with his team and he brings that winning mentality back to our camp.”

However, another of Wales’ 100-champions club, Natasha Harding, has missed the Bosnia and Switzerland games. after being left out of the team for personal reasons.

Harding was ready to play for his club Aston Villa last weekend.

“Our position on this is that we have made that decision as the Football Association of Wales [FAW]It’s for the good of Tash and the team and we’re supporting him in every way and for personal reasons, so he’s not with us,” Grainger added.

“I think the statement about personal reasons says it all, we have to make the right decision for the individual and the team and supporting that player, as we are today, is our priority.

“This decision has been made in the best interest of the club and the player as the FAW has made this decision.

“With any player in the team our priority is to help them and that’s what we’re doing with Tash.”

In Harding’s absence, Carrie Jones risks remaining in the side as she forms a new-look front three with Ceri Holland and Kayleigh Green, with Fishlock resuming the midfield role.

Defender Rachel Rowe, 30, will win her 50th Wales cap if she starts against Bosnia, as expected.

THE LAST MEETING

Wales 1-0 Bosnia (World Cup Qualifying, 7 June 2018)