In an exclusive interview with Her Football Hub, Wales international Kayleigh Green discusses her country’s drive to reach the 2021 Euros after they failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
Wales are coming off an impressive 6-0 win over the Faroe Islands as they prepare for their second European Championship qualifier this Tuesday.
The Welsh take on Northern Ireland at Rodney Parade on Tuesday. Brighton forward, Kayleigh Green knows how important the game will be.
“It’s massive. We want to start off the campaign with as many points as we can. We’ve set aside what our goals are and what we want to achieve. We definitely want to take six points coming out of the double header.”
Green went on to talk about the huge victory over the Faroe Islands, “It was fantastic to kick off with three points.
“Going into the game – believe it or not – we were very nervous with it being the first game of the campaign. But getting three points has helped to settle our nerves going into Tuesday’s game.”
Playing another home nation, especially in a competitive setting, always adds to the occasion. According to Green, this Tuesday against Northern Ireland will be no different.
“It’s the same as when we played England in the World Cup qualifier. The tension is there for the fans and for everyone else. What we look to do is play every game as its own.”
“Hopefully we will come away with three points!” says Green.
World Cup heartbreak
Wales narrowly missed out on the chance to play at the World Cup earlier this year. Jayne Ludlow’s side missed out on the play-offs on goal difference after finishing as runners up to England in their qualifying group.
It’s this disappointment that will drive Wales to qualify for Euro 2021.
“Just like every girl says, [The World Cup] had a massive effect.” Kayleigh Green states. “It didn’t sink in for a few weeks.”
“To be honest, when we finished the last game and it turned out that we didn’t qualify, going back to football was real game changer. For four, maybe six weeks, I wasn’t really enjoying football as much.”
“It wasn’t really a disappointment, we achieved more than what we expected. It was just disappointing not being able to take that step.”
Securing qualification for the European Championship will be historic for a Wales side that has never made it to an international tournament.Embed from Getty Images
“We want to qualify from the group that we’re in being the second highest ranked,” Green says.
“We’re still aiming to be top of the group and I think that’s why the nerves were there against the Faroe Islands. We have a lot to prove on the back of the last campaign.”
“Qualifying is the one thing that’s on everyone’s mind. As a nation we want to make history and we want to qualify for a competition.”Kayleigh Green on Wales’ hunger for Euro 2021 qualification
The goal of qualification is unanimous throughout the squad. A mutual belief is what Kayleigh Green says is of utmost importance.
“We all have belief in each other,” Green states. “I have belief in my back five, the goalkeeper and the same for the midfield.”
Despite what could be immense personal achievement, the success of the team always comes first for Green and her teammates.
“It would mean everything to me. This is something that we want. To make history – not for yourself but for your team and for our nation.
“For the fans that are turning up every home game and getting the viewing figures that we’re getting for our away games – we could do something special.”
Green has history of scoring important goals for her country. Back in June she scored a 91st minute winner against New Zealand. The goal that was the first for Wales in seven straight games. A run spanning nearly a year.Embed from Getty Images
“The seven-game goalless run never bothered Jayne [Ludlow].” Green explains. “It never bothered the girls, it never bothered us as a nation.
“Every game we went into we were creating opportunities and the only thing we were missing was the final ball into the net.
“Sometimes it happens in football. It was never a worry because the signs were there in every game. There was never a bother.”
After making a quick transition from player to coach, Jayne Ludlow’s influence is clear in the current Wales side.
“Jayne’s a great coach. She has that winning mentality and that’s massive. It’s something she’s given us all – not only as a manager but when I was playing with her as a player.”
“The belief we have is special. We have that togetherness as a small nation. We believe in what we can achieve. It’s so important.”Kayleigh Green on the togetherness of the Wales national team
Away from the national side, Kayleigh Green is also set to endure a tough season in the Women’s Super League.
Brighton – predicted to face a difficult season – will have to push themselves this campaign. The Seagulls will be looking to improve on their ninth-place finish from last season in order to survive the drop this time round.
Green, however, remains optimistic. “We’ve been looking strong in preseason, but you can never take those score-lines into the real season.
“The first game against Bristol is going to be huge. They are one of the teams we will be looking to compete against, it’s going to be a close race.”Embed from Getty Images
Wales will look to double their point total to six as they take on Northern Ireland this Tuesday. You can watch the game live on the BBC Sport website.
Brighton open their season against Bristol City at Ashton Gate on September 7. This can be viewed along with all other WSL fixtures on The FA Player app.