11 July 2024

Rhian Wilkinson urges Wales to ‘find a way to deliver’ in final qualifying games

11 July 2024

Wales boss Rhian Wilkinson has urged her side to “find a way to deliver” ahead of their final two European Championship qualifying games.

Her side sit second in Group B4 and kick off their final batch of matches with a trip to group leaders Croatia, before facing Kosovo in Llanelli next Tuesday.

Wales are guaranteed a play-off semi-final spot, but two wins from their final two games would see them top the group.

Wilkinson’s tenure got off to the perfect start when Wales beat Croatia 4-0 in the reverse fixture in April and the team eased to a 6-0 victory over Kosovo in the following game.

However, two tricky draws against Ukraine followed and Wilkinson insists there cannot be excuses going into the final two fixtures.

She told a press conference: “There’s definitely a piece of the defensive game where we need to tighten up and we need to be sharper in front of the net, we’re creating opportunities and players are getting in good positions – now we’ve got to make them count.

“We talk about Ukraine as a team we should’ve run over, Ukraine are a very good team and I want to continue to give them credit. I look back at that goal they scored in the last few seconds of the game and you ask your players to give everything and that’s what we saw from them.

“It was a blow, but also a reminder that you’re not gifted anything and you have to work for everything we get.

“Whether it be the heat, we’ve travelled, we’re meeting players here, we’ve talked about it from the beginning – there can’t be excuses in our campaign. We’re here with a mission and we’ve got to find a way to deliver and that’s our main focus.”

Since their 4-0 defeat in Wrexham, Croatia have been in sparkling form with three successive wins to sit at the summit and Wilkinson believes Friday’s game is a “blank slate” for her team.

“It’s a different game. They have home field advantage, we’ve talked about the weather, but also it was my first game coaching and our first camp together other than the last window,” she added.

“I was so impressed with how the team showed up but it’s got to be a blank slate, a brand new game and we’ve got to face what we have in front of us, which is a Croatia team with more experience and more opportunities to play together.”

Liverpool midfielder Ceri Holland has been given the captain’s armband for the match, something she described as a “massive honour”.

“To have experienced (at Liverpool) wearing the armband before is helpful, I think it’s all about making the role your own,” she said.

“Also leaning on others for experience, I did that at Liverpool when I wore the armband and I’ll definitely be doing that here with the more senior players in the squad and the more experienced players.

“It’s a massive honour, one I’m really excited about and I can’t wait to get out there.”

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