Our U21 squad return to UEFA qualifying on Friday in the first of two home games that will be played at the VSM Bangor Stadium in Nantporth. Wales host Liechtenstein (7th September) before taking on Portugal next Tuesday (11th September), and manager Rob Page is keen for his side to finish their Group 8 campaign on a high with four games remaining.
UEFA U21 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
- v Liechtenstein - Friday, 7 September - KO 6:00pm
- v Portugal - Tuesday, 11 September - KO 6:00pm
- VSM Bangor City Football Club Stadium
- Match Programme: Click to download
Wales suffered a 2-0 reverse in Portugal at the start of the campaign, but claimed a 3-1 victory over Liechtenstein last October.
“They're two different tests,” Page explained when he announced his squad in Cardiff last week.
“Portugal were outstanding when we played them away. We fell short, but the players gave everything. We've had them watched, we know what they're all about and we know they've got quality. But why can't we get a result? Liechtenstein might come and park the bus like they did in their home game against us, but we got the win out there.”
But while Page looks towards an upturn in results, the number of players that have progressed into Ryan Giggs' senior team offers a positive return on his efforts. "They're a good group,” he explained. “There's nothing more frustrating for young players than when they don't get given an opportunity. Ryan's clearly shown that not only is he going to give them that opportunity, but he's also going to be hands on in terms of training, and that's fantastic for a young player. So it's encouraging that there's a pathway there, as that makes it much easier to develop players.”
In addition, Giggs is helping to shape the intermediate teams in order to ensure the transition to senior football is a seamless one. “He wants to implement key principles,” Page added. “He's meticulous in the way he works. He wants high-intensity in training, he wants it to be like a match, and that gives you that competitive edge to demand more from the players around you. There are other little changes he wants to apply with the age groups, and that will help make the transition as smooth as possible. It means that it won't be unusual for them when they do get their opportunity, as they will have an understanding of how Ryan likes to work.”
However, Page isn't willing to let the progression of his players disrupt his plans for the U21 team. “I want the satisfaction of bringing players through to the 1st team,” he added.
“It's a nice part of the job. The young players now have the opportunity to train with the senior team, with the manager watching over them and taking the training. Me and Ryan never had that as Under-21 players, and it's certainly an incentive to show the manager what you can do. But I'm also greedy. I want to win games.”
Tickets can be purchased from the VSM Stadium ticket office in Bangor, £5 adults £2 concessions.