By Hannah Blackwell
Gemma Grainger insisted Wales had taken some plus points from their draw with New Zealand in Spain, even if they came away with no goals.
The Wales manager watched her team draw 0-0 in a friendly in Pinatar in their last game before their crucial World Cup qualifiers in September.
Grainger’s squad are continuing preparations ahead of the final two qualifiers against Greece and Slovenia, where victories can guarantee a play-off place for the tournament.
“To come here [to Spain] and learn what we have on and off the pitch, we have definitely achieved our goals,” said Grainger.
“We will reflect on that and put it into September’s preparations.
Earlier Tonight it finished as it started as Wales played out a goalless draw with the Joint 2023 Women’s World Cup Hosts New Zealand, Wales return to Acton on Tuesday 6 September as they look to cement their first ever World Cup play-off spot against Slovenia in Cardiff pic.twitter.com/hV6DNOJM4k
— WSNLSOCCER (@wsnlsoccer) June 28, 2022
“We are at the right place for us. The players go back to their clubs, continue with their pre-season and take care of themselves with the focus on coming back here in September.
“For me it will now be about making sure I connect with individual players and building relationships with clubs to make sure we get the best out of them, and obviously making sure we are prepared for the opposition.”
At 22nd, New Zealand are nine places higher than Wales in the FIFA world rankings and will be joint-hosts in 2023 along with Australia.
Wales, who have been away on a week’s training camp in south east Spain, created an early chance when an inch-perfect delivery from Chelsea midfielder Sophie Ingle found Natasha Harding on the right, but the former Reading forward saw her shot deflected just off target.
The Football Ferns threated late in the first half through a long-range shot from Elizabeth Anton before Meikayla Moore headed over from a corner.
In a game of few chances, which saw drinks breaks because of sweltering temperatures, New Zealand almost snatched a late victory when substitute Jacqui Hand’s header was pushed onto the crossbar by Wales goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan.
Grainger added: “We will take so many positives. To play higher-ranked opposition, and the mentality we have when we do that, we are making huge improvements.”