WALES’ women’s football manager Jarmo Matikainen has warned his players not to get carried away with playing rivals England tonight, writes Andrew Penman.
Wales host the leaders in their penultimate World Cup qualifier at the Cardiff City Stadium (kick-off 7.05pm) knowing they need to win if they are to have any chance of topping the group.
Matikainen’s squad are five points behind England, who need just one point from their remaining two games to secure their place at next year's tournament in Canada.
Only one team qualifies from each group, with the four best runners-up contesting two rounds of play-off matches for the remaining World Cup spot.
Wales' final Group Six tie will be away to Ukraine on September 17 and Matikainen says that game could end up being more important that tonight’s clash.
“We know it’s a big game but it’s still just a game,” said the Finn. “The important thing is that we just treat it like all the other qualification games.
“We’ll prepare thoroughly and we won’t play the occasion.
“I’ve had experience when I was in Finland and when we played Sweden it was exactly the same sort of rivalry.
“It’s one of the good things in sport when it doesn’t go overboard. “From our point of view the game has got to be the catalyst.
“And I hope we have an excellent and big Welsh crowd at the game,” he added. “We’ve had such great support already in our home games.
“Most recently when we played Turkey in Haverfordwest; if there hadn’t been the regulations for seating then I believe we would have broken the record for a women’s game in Wales and I hope we do that with this game.”
Wales were beaten 2-0 in the reverse fixture at The New Den in October last year and Matikainen says that performance can give his side hope tonight.
“It was unbelievably good to see the players were disappointed to lose 2-0 away to England,” he said.
“One time we would have been happy to get away with a two-goal defeat against England. It shows the ambition and hunger is there.”
Tickets can be purchased tonight with adults paying £5 and children and senior citizens £2.