Wales’ emerging women target first World Cup appearance

WALES are targeting a maiden World Cup appearance after the draw for the first women’s qualifiers in Europe took place last week.

The expansion of the competition to 16 nations for the next World Cup in France in 2025 means that, as well as all of the participants in last year’s tournament gaining automatic entry to the next, there are a further eight spots to be played for.

Four of them have been allocated to Europe and eight countries will compete this autumn in two groups of four, with the top two in each qualifying.

Wales, who have been drawn against the Netherlands, Turkey and Greece in Group A, only played their first match in 2019, and their first competitive one in 2021, but have high hopes of reaching the World Cup.

Head coach Tom Brindle, who is also general manager of the Women’s Super League, told League Express: “When I got involved in 2021, our plan was to qualify and compete in the World Cup in 2025. 

“That’s the dream, that’s the vision, that’s what we’re trying to achieve. We’re working to be able to compete in that World Cup in 2025.

“The first time we played against England it was largely a new squad, we took quite a beating (60-0) but then in the summer just gone it was half the score (32-6). We are seeing progress.

“We’ve got a pool of players connected to (Women’s Super League South champions) Cardiff Demons, who are competing in the Challenge Cup this year. That will be a big step for them to compete against the best in the country.”

Meanwhile Ireland, who also played their first competitive match in 2021 and are coached by Wigan Warriors Women assistant John Whalley, will face Italy, Malta and Serbia in Group B.

The final four World Cup spots will be determined by regional qualifiers in the Asia-Pacific (two places), Americas (one) and Middle East/Africa (one), all in 2024.