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Wales staying on UK time after 3,000 mile trip to Kazakhstan for World Cup qualifier

11 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Natasha Harding is expected to win her 100th cap in the clash against Kazakhstan. Photo Nick Potts/PA Wire.
The 3,000-mile trip to the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan has provided sizeable logistical challenges for Wales, who hope to reclaim second spot behind group leaders France on Tuesday.

Kazakhstan is five hours ahead of Wales and, with the visitors staying on UK time, that means a very late night locally for Grainger’s squad ahead of their crunch tie.

“We think staying on UK time is best for our performance,” Grainger said after a nine-hour flight from Wales that included a quick refuel stop in Turkey.

“It was the best thing to do because we would have had to travel six days before to actually acclimatise to the time difference, which obviously wasn’t a choice.

“We’ve prepared our minds for it and all our watches are on UK time.”

Grainger’s squad are based in a city centre hotel in Nur-Sultan, but she insists that is not a problem as far as early morning external noise is concerned.

She said: “The hotel doesn’t have too many windows. The curtains are closed and we can’t see out.

“It’s a quiet hotel and there’s not many members of the public here.”

Bounce back

The Wales squad trained at the Astana Arena venue on Monday evening exactly 24 hours before Tuesday’s kick-off time, which is 7pm locally.

Wales are seeking to bounce back from Friday’s 2-1 home defeat to France, which cost them second spot as Slovenia won 2-0 in Kazakhstan.

But Slovenia, who have one point more than Wales with three games remaining in the race for a play-off spot, are away to France on Tuesday.

France have a 100 per cent record after seven games and will qualify for next year’s finals in Australia and New Zealand by beating Slovenia.

Reading’s Natasha Harding is expected to win her 100th cap, becoming the fifth Welsh women to do so after Jess Fishlock, Loren Dykes, Sophie Ingle and Helen Ward.

Harding said: “It will be quite a surreal moment. For me it’s always been about the game, I’ve never sat down and counted the number of caps.

“But I got some messages from my dad yesterday, which was nice, and I’m sure there’ll be a few happy tears if I get there.”

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