CYMRU Manager Rob Page exudes confidence in Cymru’s Nations League aspirations following the draw that pits them against Iceland, Montenegro, and Turkey. Returning to the second tier after a challenging outing in Group A4 during the 2022-23 edition, Cymru strategically avoids some of League B’s top contenders, yet finds themselves facing familiar adversaries in Turkey, who outperformed them in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Expressing optimism about the group, Page asserts, “I think it’s a positive group. We’re quite pleased with it.” Reflecting on their recent encounters with Turkey, he notes the commendable home performance with a 1-1 draw in November 2023, emphasising that the outcome could have favored Cymru. The away match, a 2-0 defeat in June 2023, saw Cymru reduced to 10 men, and Page believes the result would have differed without that setback. “So we know all about them.”
Acknowledging the need for further analysis on the other teams, Page mentions, “If we give the performances we gave against Croatia [2-1 win in October 2023] and Turkey at home, the results should take care of themselves. We’re pretty confident.”
Cymru’s Nations League campaign kicks off at home against Turkey on Friday, 9 September, followed by an away clash with Montenegro three days later. Subsequent fixtures include an away game against Iceland on Friday, 11 October, with a reverse match against Montenegro the following Monday. The team will travel to Turkey on Saturday, 16 November, before concluding the group with a home match against Iceland on Tuesday, 19 November.
Looking ahead, Cymru faces Finland in a Euro 2024 play-off semi-final on 21 March, followed by a potential home play-off final against Poland or Estonia five days later. The play-off spot stems from Cymru’s Nations League performance after falling short of direct qualification for Euro 2024.
As European qualifying for the 2026 World Cup looms next year, Page eyes a strategic approach. The group winners secure automatic qualification, while the runners-up enter World Cup play-offs. The four best Nations League group winners not qualifying through these routes will also participate in the World Cup play-offs.
Reflecting on past challenges during the 2022 World Cup qualification, where Cymru navigated a rearranged play-off final amidst Nations League fixtures, Page emphasises the relief of avoiding such scheduling conflicts this time. “It will be nice that we can go into this competition and treat it as one on its own and play our best team to go out and get the results.”
With eyes on the prize, Cymru aims to capitalise on their Nations League opportunity, leveraging the lessons learned from past campaigns to shape a promising future on the international stage.