UEFA WOMEN'S U-17 CHAMPIONSHIP Elite Round
20 March - Norway v Wales
22 March - Denmark v Wales
25 March - Wales v Bosnia and Herzegovina
Wales won through the opening qualifying round for the first time in their history last October, and will now take on Norway, Denmark and host nation Bosnia and Herzegovina in what is expected to be a very testing week of football for the talented young side, say faw.cymru.
Wales qualified behind group winners Germany thanks to an opening day win over Turkey and a draw against hosts Latvia. Alice Griffiths, Ffion Morgan and Grace Horrell scored Wales' qualification goals, and all three players have been included in the final squad. Last month Wales played two friendlies against Hungary in Merthyr ahead of the tournament, and despite a 4-1 defeat in the first game, a 2-1 reverse in the second match should plenty of defensive improvement and the side will take positives from scoring in both games and learning from their mistakes in the opening match.
“They are some very talented individuals in there,” explained Jayne Ludlow recently when asked about the success of the young side. “But the thing that really stands out about that group is how they work as a group, and how collective they are. Things we're doing off the pitch alongside what we are doing on the pitch are showing results. Again, there's work to do, but qualifying for the Elite round is something we haven't managed to do before, and they are groundbreaking in that sense. For us, going to the next stage is to ensure we enjoy every minute of it. It's going to be a fantastic learning environment and we are going to come up against some really top level teams who are going to really give us great competition.”
Bronwen Thomas and Amina Vine are included in the squad, and have recently enjoyed senior international experience at the Cyprus Cup tournament as part of a calculated plan that Ludlow believes will bring plenty of benefits in the future.
“One of the things we've been able to do is impact younger players within the international setup,” Ludlow explained. “We're seeing the fruits of that already with the Under-17 team. We want to go out there and compete and learn something from every game we play. And if we take what we learn forwards then by the time these players are senior internationals then it will be a completely different picture for us as a national team because these players, prior to getting into the senior team, would have played numerous games at international level. It's something that people might not realise will have huge implications on the future. The things they learn when they step on an international pitch are very different to what they learn in youth football in any country. It's a massive challenge but an enjoyable one as well.”
There has been a couple of late changes to the squad, with Aimee Watson and Morgan Rogers being replaced by Deanna Lewis and Elise Hughes.