Women’s World Cup qualifiers: First task complete as Wales win opening two games

Wales Women defeated Estonia 1-0 yesterday to make for the perfect start in World Cup qualifying.

Wales have made the perfect start to qualifying. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Natasha Harding’s fifth minute opener in Parnu was enough to secure victory over a stubborn Estonian side, managed by former manager Jarmo Maitkainen.

Wales had carved a number of opportunities and ended up with 78% possession, creating 23 shots in total.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There had been an expectation of more goals, but manager Gemma Grainger, speaking to BBC Sport said: “We set out at the start of camp to get two wins. That’s what we have done and that’s the most important thing.

“We are going to learn from every game and there’s lots to learn from tonight. But most importantly we have come here and got the result and that’s what we wanted to do.

“Of course we want to be more clinical. We’ll work on that. But I am really pleased that we are creating chances because if you are creating then the next but will come.”

Gemma Grainger is the woman tasked with leading Wales to a World Cup. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

It was quite the difference to Friday’s match in which they scored six past Kazakhstan at Parc y Scarlets.

Kayleigh Green had a fruitful night in front of goal then scoring twice, whilst Natasha Harding, Rachel Rowe, Gemma Evans and Ceri Holland were also on target.

Not many can complain however as with two potential banana skins, Wales have come through unscathed.

So here is all you need to know as the Women’s team of Wales aim to qualify for a first major tournament.

Where do the two victories leave Wales in the standings?

Two wins from two sees Wales on six points, behind group leaders France on the virtue of goal difference.

There was a point that Wales looked like they’d top the group after the first round of fixtures but France’s Amel Majri scored in the 92nd minute to defeat Slovenia having initially gone behind.

Les Bleus have a goal difference of plus five over Wales after recording a 10-0 win over Greece in their first match.

Just behind Wales is Estonia, who unlike Wales, scored more than once away in Estonia, scoring four goals. Their defeat to France leaves them behind Wales but it is still early days.

Greece after suffering their heavy defeat against France bounced back by defeating Kazakhstan 3-2 and like Slovenia are also on three points.

That leaves both Estonia and Kazakhstan without any points in their opening two games. Estonia have yet to score but have conceded just five, meanwhile Kazakhstan have scored twice but shipped nine, meaning they are bottom of the group.

When do Wales next play?

It won’t be too long until Wales are playing again with the next international period just over a month away.

An all important match away to Lendava in their next match on October 22 knowing that a defeat would make it difficult to gain ground on an opponent who will share their play-off ambitions.

Four days later on October 26, Wales host Estonia at the Cardiff City Stadium and having seen how well organised they were in the first match, they will know what to expect in their home match.

Another double header follows in November to see out the year to see us reach the halfway stage of qualifying. A home match against Greece takes place on November 26, before jetting off to play Top seeds France, who regularly qualify for major tournaments four days later.

There will then be a four month wait until qualifying begins again with France again the opponents but this time, the French will be playing on Welsh soil. In a similar theme, there are no home double-headers, so Wales will then make the lengthy trip to Kazakhstan after facing the group favourites.

After that round of fixtures, there is another four month wait but this is where the campaign is wrapped up. Wales play in Greece on September 2 before finishing off with a home match against Slovenia, which could be a potential shoot-out for a play-off spot.

Wales remaining 2023 World Cup qualifying fixtures:

  • October 22 2021: Slovenia v Wales (kick-off: 19:15)
  • October 26 2021: Wales v Estonia (kick-off: 19:15)
  • November 26 2021: Wales v Greece (kick-off: TBD)
  • November 30 2021: France v Wales (kick-off: TBD)
  • April 8 2022: Wales v France (kick-off: TBD)
  • April 12 2022: Kazakhstan v Wales (kick-off: TBD)
  • September 2 2022: Greece v Wales (kick-off TBD)
  • September 6 2022: Wales v Slovenia (kick-off: TBD)