“If you’d told us we’d be sitting clear in second at this stage, we would have bitten your hand off”

Helen Ward. Pic: Y Clwb Pel-Droed

By Ben Evans

RECORD goalscorer Helen Ward has given an insight into the confidence and momentum gained by Wales Women – and predicted more of the same in 2022.

Wales sit second in Group I with four World Cup qualifying group games remaining ahead of the 2023 tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

Last month a 5-0 win against Greece was followed by a 2-0 defeat to France which, despite the result, was further proof of just how far the team has come.

Watford legend Ward said: “We always knew both games were going to be very different tests and that proved to be the case.

“I thought it was a really dominant performance (against Greece) from start to finish and then the result Greece then went on to get a few days later in Slovenia [0-0] goes to show just how well we played.

“The France game was always going to be really difficult, but the girls put in a huge effort and we were so unlucky not to come away with a point.

“It was disappointing to be down to 10 again and who knows, maybe with 11 we could have snatched something, but it wasn’t to be.”

Ward says there is quiet satisfaction in the camp at how Wales are placed.

She added: “I think if you’d told us we’d be sitting clear in second at this stage, I think we would have bitten your hand off. Not because we wouldn’t have that expectation on ourselves, but you just never know how things will plan out.

Helen Ward in action for Wales. Pic: Will Cheshire

“We’ve played everyone at least once now, so we have a good feel of the group, and we go into 2022 full of confidence.”

Reflecting on the quality of football shown in the game against France, Ward stated that confidence has been building for some time.

“I think the confidence has been growing over the last two or three years,” she said.

“Although we didn’t score against France, I think it’s the closest we’ve come to doing so against a top side and that shows we’ve grown”.

The emergence of several young players in the Welsh set-up has excited Ward.

She said: “We have been so lucky to find some really, really talented kids in the last few years and the best thing about them is that most of them are in full-time environments with top teams.

“That’s something that the older lot never had at their age and they’re coming into camps ready to compete for a place in the team which is amazing.”