Still more to come says Wales manager Jayne Ludlow after Russia victory
Wales Women still have a lot more to offer says manager Jayne Ludlow, after their victory over Russia Women on Tuesday evening.
It was a convincing 3-0 victory for Ludlow’s side in front of a sellout crowd, following on from their slender victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Liberty Stadium on Thursday evening.
It has been a campaign of progress for the Wales women, with this being the countries likeliest chance of qualifying for a first-ever major tournament in Women’s football.
A win in their next match against England would guarantee a place at next years World Cup, which will be held in France.
“I’ve been saying all the way through this campaign, we’re still very much a developing team,” said Ludlow.
We’ve taken huge strides in each game we’ve played and we’re learning each time we step on the pitch.”
Despite a goalless first half, Wales came out in the second and secured the game early on. Kayleigh Green scored moments after play had resumed, before doubling her tally, as well as setting up Natasha Harding.
Scenes at the full-time whistle, saw the players celebrate with adoring fans, something the team has built up in their numbers over this qualifying campaign.
“They need to enjoy this moment. I’ve said all along ‘we’re on a journey’ and we’ll see how long it lasts.
Right now, it’s still going so hopefully it will keep going for the next few months.”
Progression has been matched by Wales victory over Russia. Before the game, Wales hadn’t won a game by more than one goal, scoring just four goals in their last six qualifying matches.
They almost matched that in one game, as they put three past Russia, to take their goals tally to seven, whilst Laura O’Sullivans’ goal remains unbeaten.
“We’re queens of the 1-0 so to get the three, it’s absolutely fantastic, it’s what the girls deserved. They played extremely well in certain parts of the games tonight so we’re really happy.”
The 39-year-old was appointed the manager of Wales back in October 2014, after previously managing Reading.
In their last campaign, she took Wales to third place in a group of five, as they missed out on a place at the European Championships by five points. They have since bettered this in World Cup qualifying, by being guaranteed of a second-place finish at a minimum.
“We’re a tight group. We’ve had lots of challenges thrown at us over the last two years.
We’ve made errors in certain places, but what’s fantastic about the group of players I’m working with is they correct them quickly.
They acknowledge we can be better. We’re a little family that are budding on along and still trying to push boundaries.”
Tuesday’s opponents Russia were involved in the European Championships out in the Netherlands last year, where they exited at the group stage. Elena Fomina’s side are ranked 26th in the world, compared to Wales who are eight places below. Wales have since finished ahead of them.
“Sometimes the smaller nations step out, perform extremely well and prove themselves. That’s what we’ve done,” said Ludlow.
Nobody expected us to be anywhere near this position come the end of seven games so for us we’ve proved some doubters wrong.
Some doubters within our own group because they’ve never been able to perform when the pressure was on.
We’re happy where we’re at. Can we get better? Yes, and if we do that then we’ll challenge anybody on our day.”
(Featured Image: Matthew Lofthouse)