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Don’t Use Manager Change As An Excuse, Wales Boss Tells Players

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By Hannah Blackwell

Rhian Wilkinson has told her players they cannot use the change in manager as an excuse not to succeed with qualification for the next Women’s European Championships.

The new Wales national team boss will take charge of her first campaign when it starts next month with her squad having been handed a positive draw.

Wales will face Croatia, Ukraine and Kosovo in their qualifying group for Euro 2025, following the draw in Switzerland.

Wilkinson’s side, who were placed in Pot 1 for the League B draw, are in Group B4.

In a bizarrely complicated system, Wales cannot qualify directly but only via the play-offs.

Yet the structure is so convoluted the group stages for the League B teams only lose one team from each four-nation group. The top three go into the play-offs.

“We really do have the philosophy that there will not be any excuses,” said Wilkinson, who has succeeded Gemma Grainger..

“There has been a change in coach, it’s not ideal. It’s the beginning of the journey for me but it isn’t for these players, they have been on this journey towards achieving the right to play in a major tournament and that continues for them.

“We can’t ever let the change of coach be an excuse or a barrier for not performing.

“Our ambition is to win every game. This team can beat any nation on their day, but it is consistency which is key and will allow us to have success in this tournament.”

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The winners and runners-up from the four League A groups will qualify automatically for the Euros finals, joining a Switzerland side already assured to be there as hosts.

The third and fourth-placed teams will enter the play-offs, along with teams finishing in the top three in each of the four League B groups.

If Switzerland finish in the top three of Group B1, the best-ranked fourth-place team from League B will go into the play-offs.

There will also be five group winners and three best-ranked runners-up from League C, making 28 teams in total, in a two-round play-off system that will start in October and see seven sides advance to the finals.

England and the Republic of Ireland have been drawn together in the same group for Euro 2025 qualifying.

Scotland are in Group B2 with Serbia, Slovakia and Israel, while Northern Ireland take on Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Malta in B3.

Wilkinson was appointed until 2027 last month, replacing Grainger, who ended her three-year reign to take charge of Norway.

The team has never qualified for the World Cup or European Women’s Championship but Grainger led them to the brink of reaching their first major competition in 2022 as they lost to Switzerland in extra time in a play-off final.

Wilkinson – who has been playing and coaching in North America – admitted she knows little about Wales’ group opponents.

“I know of these teams but I don’t know them well enough,” she added.

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