Gemma Grainger: Wales are ‘moving forward’ despite Nations League disappointment
Phil Blanche, PA
Manager Gemma Grainger reflected on relegation from the top tier of the Nations League by insisting Wales are moving to “the next level”.
Wales were condemned to League B with a match to spare following a 2-1 home defeat to Iceland, their fifth defeat from five games in the competition.
Grainger said: “It’s not the result we wanted, but we knew what playing against higher-ranked teams was going to give us.
“We’re the only team not to have qualified for a major tournament in the whole of League A, so that perspective is real.
“We know we compete for large periods of time, but that doesn’t mean a lot in terms of results right now.
“The frustration is we have created chances again and anyone who has watched our games and knows football can see we’ve made progress.
“We’ve exposed our players to these games and internally we feel we’re in a great place.
“This is a team moving forward, maybe not in the results right now, but I do think we are taking the team to the next level.”
Wales enjoyed 58 per cent possession against Iceland – ranked 14th in the world and 15 places above them – and had 21 shots compared to the visitors’ eight.
But only three of those attempts were on target, including substitute Elise Hughes’ stoppage-time header after Hildur Antonsdottir and Dilja Zomers had given Iceland a two-goal cushion.
Grainger felt Wales should have been awarded a first-half penalty with the game goalless when Jess Fishlock went down under a challenge from Selma Sol Magnusdottir, and bemoaned the absence of VAR at the Cardiff City Stadium.
She said: “There’s contact on the back of the calf in the penalty area.
“We all know it should be a penalty, but it doesn’t get given and we move on.
“It’s frustrating because it’s a key moment and we didn’t have that luck.”
Hannah Cain was absent from the matchday squad after suffering an injury in training that could spell potentially bad news for both Wales and her Women’s Super League club Leicester.
Cain sustained an ACL injury while playing for Wales in November 2021 and seems certain to miss Tuesday’s final Nations League game against Germany in Swansea.
“Hannah picked up the injury on camp and we are awaiting to find the results of that,” said Grainger.
“She has been unlucky. It’s a real disappointment for Hannah and we’ll do everything we can to support her.”
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