Match Hub: Cymru v Estonia
International
25 October 2021

Match Hub: Cymru v Estonia

GRAINGER CALLS FOR INTIMIDATING ATMOSPHERE

26 October 20217:30am

Cymru are on-course to set a new attendance record tonight when Estonia arrive at the Cardiff City Stadium tonight for a crucial 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier (7.15pm).

Ticket sales are fast-approaching the 5,053 record for a women's international that was set in August 2018 and manager Gemma Grainger believes the support of the Red Wall will make all the difference in this campaign.

"We can break the record for the number of fans but also it plays an incredible part in who we are as a team," said Grainger on Monday. "The noise when we played at Parc y Scarlets against Kazakhstan was incredible and it plays such a huge part because of the support and the atmosphere.

"It's really intimidating for a team to come into our environment to face us. It will be part of our success on Tuesday night and in the whole of this campaign."

Cymru will be without the suspended Kayleigh Green and injured Rachel Rowe for the Group I match. "Kayleigh's been a starter in the team since I've been here and she's such a huge part of the team for us," Grainger added. "But one of the positives is the number of forwards we have who are ready to step in.

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PRE-MATCH MUSIC

25 October 202110:27pm

Rachel Rowe is back with another pre-match playlist to get you fired up ahead of the game. 

Listen to Rowe’s selection of songs right now.

ESTONIA THE FITTING OPPONENT FOR CROWD BOOST

25 October 20215:11pm

Cymru are hoping a welcome a record crowd for a women's international on Tuesday as Estonia visit the Cardiff City Stadium for an important Group I qualifier (7.15pm).

The last time that Cymru hosted Estonia was back in March 2020 for an international friendly at the Racecourse in Wrexham, and it proved to be the last match that would be played in front of the Red Wall before the pandemic. Goals from Nadia Lawrence and Megan Wynne earned Jayne Ludlow's side a 2-0 win with just over 2,000 fans in attendance (below). 

With the remaining EURO qualifiers delayed and subsequently played behind closed doors, Cymru were only able to welcome fans back into the stadium last month when the World Cup qualifying campaign began with a convincing 6-0 win over Kazakhstan in Llanelli.

A goal from Natasha Harding earned Gemma Grainger's side a 1-0 in Estonia last month, and the side have now taken seven points from their opening three games of the campaign. However, under former Cymru manager Jarmo Matikainen Estonia have improved defensively, and patience could be key on Tuesday if the side are to take maximum points.

The record crowd for a Cymru women's international stands at 5,053 when England arrived at Rodney Parade in Newport for what would be a decisive World Cup qualifier in August 2018. 

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MEET THE REF

25 October 20214:38pm

Experienced referee Marta Frias Acedo will take charge of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier between Cymru and Estonia in Cardiff on Tuesday night (7.15pm).

The 40-year old from Spain refereed the 2-2 draw between Cymru and Israel back in 2015 and more recently the 1-0 defeat to Norway at the Cardiff City Stadium in EURO qualifying last October. A familiar face in the UEFA Women's Champions League, her first appointment in that competition involved Cardiff Met back in 2014.

Silvia Fernandez and Marta Villanueva Benavente are the assistant referees while Beatriz Arregui Gamir is the fourth official. All of the officials are from Spain.

PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

24 October 20214:35pm

Gemma Grainger and the Cymru squad were back on the training ground earlier today as preparations for Tuesday's qualifier in Cardiff continue.

The Group I match takes place at the Cardiff City Stadium and over 4,000 tickets have already been sold for this important match in the campaign as former Cymru manager Jarmo Matikainen returns to the capital with his Estonia team.

The record attendance for a women's international in Wales stands at 5,053 and Grainger is keen to see a new record set on Tuesday night. "We hope The Red Wall will turn up in their numbers on Tuesday and we can give the performance that they deserve."

Here are a few photos from Sunday's training session.

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GROUP I SITUATION

24 October 202110:14am

With a return of seven points from the opening three games Cymru currently sit second in Group I as all six teams prepare to return to action on Tuesday night.

Gemma Grainger's side take on Estonia at the Cardiff City Stadium (7.15pm) looking to complete the double over their opponents having claimed a 1-0 win in Parnu last month. Meanwhile, Greece host Slovenia and Kazakhstan take on group leaders France. 

The nine group winners will automatically qualify for the finals while the nine runners-up will compete in the play-offs, with a further two teams directly progressing to the finals via that route. A third team from the UEFA play-offs will then compete in the inter-confederation play-offs, which will be a tournament of ten teams from the six FIFA confederations to decide the remaining three places.

Here is the latest Group I table.

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CYMRU OUT TO BUILD ON SLOVENIA POINT

24 October 20219:58am

Kayleigh Green earned Cymru a share of the points in Slovenia on Friday night as Gemma Grainger's side were held to a 1-1 draw in their latest Group I qualifier.

The side now return to 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying action on Tuesday night when former Cymru manager Jarmo Matikainen brings his Estonia side to the Cardiff City Stadium (7.15pm).

Green scored the second half equaliser but was later shown a second yellow card and will now miss Tuesday's match through suspension. Elsewhere on Friday, Greece claimed a 1-0 win away to Kazakhstan while France scored 11 without reply against Estonia to stay top of the group.

Here are a few photos from Friday's match.

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INGLE FOCUSED ON WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION

21 October 20216:57pm

Captain Sophie Ingle spoke to the media ahead of Friday's Group I qualifier against Slovenia for what will also be the 200th Cymru women's international match.

"It's crazy to think I've played in over half of those games," said Ingle. "I still think I'm quite young. It's amazing and it's incredible to see the change in the women's game over the last few years. Us as experienced players keep telling the younger ones how much has changed and how lucky they are now that they're in this position. But we have to keep pushing on and getting better in every single camp."

Cymru opened the campaign with two victories last month, and Ingle highlighted the positives of the quick return to international action. "The girls are excited to get back in," she added. "The good thing about a short turnaround from the last games is that things are still fresh in our minds in the way we want to play. I think we've been building for the last few years and it's about those steady improvements to our game.

"It's also about our youth coming through now, and as they are in great environments at their clubs, we have more depth within the squad. Hopefully we can push on now and qualify. Slovenia will have different strengths compared to the last two teams we played and I think they are really good in their transition to attack when they win the ball back. As long as we can nullify that as their strength then there's no reason why we can't go and get the result that we need."

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CYMRU ARRIVE IN SLOVENIA

21 October 20215:32pm

The Cymru squad have arrived in Slovenia ahead of Friday's 2023 FIFA World Cup Group I qualifier in Lendava (7.15pm).

Gemma Grainger's side have enjoyed a perfect start to the campaign with two victories while Slovenia won their opening game against Estonia but were narrowly defeated by group leaders and favourites France.

The match is the first of an international double-header for both teams as Cymru return to Cardiff to take on Estonia on Tuesday while Slovenia head to Larissa to take on Greece. 

Here are a few travel photos from earlier today.

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MEET THE REF

21 October 20216:01pm

Lovisa Johansson from Sweden will take charge of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier between Slovenia and Cymru in Lendava on Friday evening (7.15pm).

Recently promoted to the UEFA list of female referees, Johansson has spent a number of years refereeing in the domestic women's game in Sweden and has been fourth official for a number of UEFA Women's Champions League and international fixtures.

Earlier this month Johansson took charge of the UEFA Women's U17 League A qualifier between the Netherlands and Slovenia.

Josefin Aronsson and Emelie Elfstrand are the assistant referees while Sara Wiinikka is the fourth official. All of the officials are from Sweden.

FISHLOCK EXCITED FOR SLOVENIA TEST

21 October 20215:18pm

Jess Fishlock is the most-capped player in Cymru history but the midfielder still has the same hunger and desire to succeed in the colours of her country as the side head to Slovenia.

"It's nice being around the girls again," said Fishlock earlier this week. "I'm really excited for these two games. We got a little bit of nerves and emotion out of the way with those two wins, so now we can focus on our aim of getting to the World Cup. Friday's game will be a big challenge but I am super-excited."

Fishlock was of course referring to the victories over Kazakhstan and Estonia that handed Cymru a perfect start to the Group I campaign. The side now take on Slovenia on Friday before returning to Cardiff on Tuesday for the return match against Estonia.

"Those two games gave us different challenges," she added. "And you after remember that we're still going through a process right now. Slovenia will pose a number of different threats for us and we will have to be focused. I love these testing games and I have confidence in us, but we have to be switched on. The women's game is changing rapidly and national team structures have improved so much, these teams are just getting better and better."

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WARD RECOGNISES SLOVENIA CHALLENGE

21 October 202110:24am

Striker Helen Ward spoke to the media earlier this week as Cymru prepare to take on Slovenia in their third 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Group I qualifier on Friday night. 

“We know exactly what Slovenia are all about,” said Ward. “They've got a very good squad and a very effective way of playing. They are scoring goals against top nations, so we have to take them seriously, and we will. If we can continue to build momentum in these two games then that would be fantastic.” 

Gemma Graingers’ side have enjoyed a perfect start to the campaign with victories over Kazakhstan and Estonia last month, and Ward highlighted the atmosphere and competition for places that currently exists within the squad.  

“It sort of feels refreshed,” Ward explained. “There are a few new younger players who are pushing to play in this team, and everyone has had a lift. I think that's reflected in our performances. I can see how well the team are playing and for me it's about being ready when I'm called upon.  

“The culture in the group is that everyone has a part to play. I've seen a lot of change on and off the pitch, but it's been a collective growth and everyone has played their part in that. It's a nice place to be at the moment. There's a good vibe.”

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PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

20 October 20215:58pm

The Cymru squad were back on the training ground earlier today as preparations continue ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier away to Slovenia in Lendava on Friday night (7.15pm).

Cymru currently sit one place and three points ahead of their opponents in Group I following victories over Kazakhstan and Estonia last month. Meanwhile, Slovenia defeated Estonia in their opening match of the campaign before narrowly losing 3-2 to group leaders France.

Manager Gemma Grainger has named a strong squad for the upcoming double-header as the side return to Cardiff on Tuesday evening to take on Estonia.

Here are a few photos from training today.

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MORGAN ENJOYING CYMRU CAMP ATMOSPHERE

20 October 20219:57am

Cymru full-back Ffion Morgan spoke to the media earlier this week as her side prepare to take on Slovenia and Estonia in 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying.

With a return of six points from the opening two games of the campaign, Gemma Grainger's side have enjoyed an excellent start in Group I, and Morgan was keen to offer an insight into the positive mood that currently exists within the camp.

"We're feeling confident, we're feeling happy," said Morgan. "We haven't been in this position before. We've got momentum now after coming away from the last camp with six points, which is huge, and hopefully we can come away from this camp with the same.

"It's great for me, the environment is fantastic and the camp is enjoyable. I like to compete against myself. I'm in a great environment, especially for a young player, with great players. There's so much depth and competition for a place in the team at the moment, but we are one team."

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Gemma Grainger is preparing her squad for the FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia in Lendava (22 October) and Estonia in Cardiff (26 October). 

Keep checking the match hub for all the latest news, information and coverage of the qualifiers.