Soccer

Wales call on Chris Coleman in bid to boost Women’s Nations League hopes

Former Wales men’s team manager Chris Coleman has spoken to the country’s women’s squad this week (Mike Egerton/PA)
Former Wales men’s team manager Chris Coleman has spoken to the country’s women’s squad this week (Mike Egerton/PA) Former Wales men’s team manager Chris Coleman has spoken to the country’s women’s squad this week (Mike Egerton/PA)

Wales have enlisted the support of former manager Chris Coleman to help them avoid relegation from the Women’s Nations League.

Coleman memorably led Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and spoke to boss Gemma Grainger and her squad before Friday’s relegation decider against Iceland in Cardiff.

Wales need to probably win by a two-goal margin to stay in League A, as well as boost their Euro 2025 qualifying hopes, and Coleman gave the lowdown on his time as men’s team manager between 2012 and 2017 during a 20-minute Zoom call on Wednesday.

Wales – UEFA Euro 2016 – Wales Homecoming
Wales – UEFA Euro 2016 – Wales Homecoming Chris Coleman became a national hero after leading Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 (Simon Galloway/PA)

“One of the things we have done in terms of the mindset and mentality is being fortunate enough to spend some time with Chris Coleman,” Grainger said at her pre-match press conference.

“We spoke to Chris around some of the work he did with the men’s team because that journey is so similar to us.

“We are two years into a journey that was similar to the one Chris had with our men’s team. It was great for him to speak to the girls about that.

“It was interesting to hear him talk about when the team suffered and what that allowed them to do in terms of ‘Together Stronger’ (the national team’s motto) – the real togetherness of the team and what it takes.

“He talked about the criticism that team had, and to me that’s a natural part of when a team is successful.

Wales v Bosnia and Herzegovina – FIFA Women’s World Cup – UEFA Qualifier – Cardiff City Stadium
Wales v Bosnia and Herzegovina – FIFA Women’s World Cup – UEFA Qualifier – Cardiff City Stadium Gemma Grainger has targeted victory over Iceland to keep Wales in the top tier of the Women’s Nations League (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“It was a pleasure to speak to him for me as a coach and also for the players.”

Wales remain without a point after four games and are bottom of Nations League Group A3 heading into their final two fixtures.

Grainger’s side finish their campaign against two-time World Cup winners Germany in Swansea on Tuesday.

So overcoming Iceland, who beat them 1-0 in September, represents Wales’ best chance of securing the third spot they need to avoid dropping into League B and head into the relegation play-offs instead.

If Wales win by a one-goal margin, bottom spot could end up being determined by goal difference – and Iceland currently have a superior advantage of four in that department.

Grainger said: “We are focused on winning. If we win by one goal then we know what we’ve got to do in the second game.

“Two goals would mean that we would likely go through on head-to-head.

“It’s an ideal game for us because when we qualify for the Euros we’ll go through stages where one-off games will matter. So it’s a great rehearsal against a top team in Europe.”

Wales have lost to Denmark twice and Germany away since losing their opening game in Iceland.

But Grainger was encouraged by the narrow 2-1 defeat in Denmark last time out, saying: “We finished that game stronger than they did. We scored in the 72nd minute and we really pushed for the equaliser.

“The first game against Iceland was one of our best performances since I’ve been here.

“The challenge now is to replicate that because the plan is to stay in League A.”