WALES’ women’s football manager Jarmo Matikainen admitted his players were afraid of star-studded England on Thursday night, writes Andrew Penman.
The visitors, featuring a host of big names, clinched their place at next year’s World Cup in Canada with a 4-0 win that leaves Wales’ qualification hopes in the balance.
Matikainen’s side must now win their final game in Ukraine on September 17 to have any hope of qualifying for the play-offs as one of the four best second-placed teams.
And the Finnish coach knows that his players will have to perform much better in Lviv than they did at the Cardiff City Stadium, having conceded four goals in the first 45 minutes.
“It was extremely disappointing in the first half. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen us be so afraid,” said Matikainen.
“Everybody knew that we were playing against one of the top teams in the world but it’s not going to make it any easier if you’re afraid.
“That unfortunately showed in the first half.”
“We are still a small football nation,” he added. “We need to continue to work and make sure we are in a position where we play in front of 3,500 spectators again.
“If we continue to do that then we will get used to it and next time we’ll be ready.”
Matikainen was much happier with the second half showing from his players and says the improved display is a positive ahead of the trip to Ukraine.
“We will look at the positives from the second half when we came back into the game and played like we know we can.” He said.
“I am certain that we will get over the fear in Ukraine.
“When you have your worst seven minutes of the campaign and you’re 4-0 down at half-time and you come back playing the way we did then the foundation is there for the Ukraine game and we will bounce back.
“Whichever way we look at it, we’ve got to get a result in Ukraine. We knew that whatever happened in this game it would not solve anything or be crucial.”