3 months ago
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'Wales can frustrate England and qualify for Women's World Cup'

Written by
Jess Fishlock

Wales have been drawn against England, Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Kazakhstan in their qualifying pool for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. In her BBC column, midfielder Jess Fishlock gives her reaction to the news and assesses Wales’ prospects.

I think it’s a tricky draw, but a good one. The travel we must do is not ideal, but I definitely feel we could have faced something a lot worse and we can be pretty confident going into it.

People will talk about the matches against England and we’re always going to enjoy playing against a team like them.

It’s a home nations game and it’s going to be great, but equally we have to be realistic and play the game and not play the occasion.

I understand why people would have the outlook on life that we’re playing for second place and I get it.

England are fourth in the world rankings and we are 35th, but I don’t really think the rankings mean anything at all.

I’ve seen England struggle against Belarus and other teams that have caused them problems.

I fully believe we can cause England problems and can frustrate them if we get our tactics and our game plan right.

Is it a write-off that England will beat us? No, absolutely not and I don’t care what the rankings say – that is not real life.

I also don’t think it’s a shoo-in that it’s England’s group for the taking. But you’ve got to do it on that day or on that night whether it’s in Wales or Russia. Against England you never know.

The influence of England’s Welsh manager Mark Sampson

I worked with Mark Sampson at Bristol and he’s a great bloke and a great manager.

He’s got a happy group and a happy camp and he’s a good guy. We’ve spoken a couple of times but I doubt he has much time for old colleagues.

But that doesn’t change the fact that when we play them, we want to beat them.

One thing you can say about Mark is he focuses on the team spirit and making it a good and happy place to be. That helped them reach the 2015 World Cup semi-finals.

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It’s very similar for us under [Wales manager] Jayne Ludlow.

She focuses on our spirit, character and mentality and when you get that right, your football is better.

That approach has been successful and I hope it is more successful in this campaign so we can push for qualification.

Starting well is vital

Four of Wales’ opening five matches are away from home and it is a tough start.

Russia, Kazakhstan and Bosnia can be very difficult destinations, but we’ve just got to make sure we get our preparations and mentality right to perform well away from home.

Jess Fishlock in action for Wales against Northern Ireland<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

We can be confident when we play the likes of Russia and Bosnia and Kazakhstan, but it’s the logistics, the travel, the food – that type of stuff – that we must be able to deal with.

That’ll be down to us and. We’ve got a good group and if we can overcome any off-field issues then we can be pretty confident.

We can qualify

Women’s 2019 World Cup: European qualifying process
The seven group winners automatically reach the finals
*The four best-placed runners up play off for the eighth and final European place
*The four best-placed runners up are those with the best records against the teams who finish first, third and fourth in their groups

There is no doubt in my mind we can get in the top two.

We have the players for that, we have the squad for that and we have the staff to get us there and if we don’t do that, then it will be a big disappointment.

The away form will be vital. It was the bit that really cost us in our 2017 European Championship qualifiers.

We lost our first game away against Austria and then went to Israel and drew. At home we had great games against those teams but it was just our early away form that cost us.

We have to make sure that’s right if we want to get through the World Cup campaign to get to France in 2019.

Wales’ 2019 World Cup qualifying matches
2017
7 September: Kazakhstan (A)
24 October: Russia (A)
24 November: Kazakhstan (H)
28 November: Bosnia & Herzegovina (A)
2018
6 April: England (A)
7 June: Bosnia & Herzegovina (H)
12 June: Russia (H)
31 August: England (H)

I’m committed to the campaign

I love playing for my country and I’ve committed to this campaign and I’ll try and get there with everything that I can.

It’s hard with our season over here in the USA [where the seasons begin in April and end in August] because they don’t stop the league for Fifa dates so it’s hard to get time away during the season.

But I’m 100% committed to this Wales campaign and to be there with the team at the right times at the most important times and help us qualify.

Source: BBC Football Read Original Article: 'Wales can frustrate England and qualify for Women's World Cup'

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