Euro qualifying 'one last push' for Fishlock

5 months ago 134
Jess FishlockJess Fishlock has won 147 caps for Wales since her debut in 2006

Wales record cap-holder Jess Fishlock says she has "one last push" in her international career, as she bids for a first appearance at a major tournament.

Wales start Euro 2025 qualifiers in April after being relegated from Nations League A.

Fishlock, 36, believes Wales can learn from a tough, eye-opening campaign and is ready to help her country reach the Euro finals in Switzerland.

"I want to do it, this last time," she told BBC Radio Wales Sport.

"I feel good, my body feels good and I've got one last push in me. I think the important thing is that I want to do it.

"When you want to do something, everything you have to input to get the output, is a lot easier.

"One last push, one last push yes."

What is the state of Wales' women's national team?Grainger backs Wales for Euros after Germany draw

Wales lost six successive matches in 2023 and were criticised by many pundits and supporters. They were relegated from the top tier of the Nations League after finishing bottom of Group A3 with just one point.

The campaign included back-to-back 5-1 defeats against Germany and Denmark, the Danes beating Gemma Grainger's side twice, as did Iceland.

However, the final game in November produced one of the Wales women's team's best ever results, holding former world champions Germany - ranked sixth in the world - to a goalless draw in Swansea.

"It's been a tough year for us but ending it with a draw against Germany was huge," Fishlock said on Radio Wales Sport's review of 2023.

"It was not only something we needed as a group, also I think everyone who follows us needed it as well, to keep the belief in what we're doing.

"It was bigger than the result, the performance was great, and it gives us something to build on, when it comes to the qualifiers in April."

Women's Nations League: Wales 0-0 Germany - highlights

'If we don't take that, it will be borderline criminal'

As well as facing three top-15 sides in their autumn Nations League fixtures, Wales - currently ranked 32nd - also played a USA side ranked third in the world.

They held the Americans until the final 15 minutes of a friendly international in San Jose, when two late Trinity Rodman goals gave the hosts a 2-0 win before heading to Australia for the defence of their World Cup trophy.

Wales had missed out on World Cup qualifying in heart-breaking fashion when they conceded a 121st-minute goal to lose a play-off final 2-1 in Switzerland in November 2022.

They have never reached the finals of a major tournament and Fishlock, who has played 147 times for her country, says they must capitalise on the harsh lessons they have learned.

"I think it's understanding the level we're at right now and the expectation that comes with that," said Fishlock, who plays club football for Seattle-based OL Reign in America's National Women's Soccer League.

"Our World Cup qualifying situation put us into a whole new category and level of women's football.

"Before the qualifiers and the Nations League, we probably weren't in that first bracket and level of competition. In previous situations, we would play a top seed every six to nine months.

"Now, what we've ended up doing is pitting ourselves against these top seeds back-to-back in September, October, and November, whilst also trying to deal with our clubs.

"Everyone now knows the women's game at club level is getting far more competitive and harder, it's not just a jump from a football perspective, it's a jump from an emotional and mental capacity, it's about if can you stay at this level of consistency.

"I think that was the biggest lesson we learnt; how do we compete at this level consistently?"

"Going into the qualifiers now, we can learn that we must be at that level, which we're capable of, we've showed that. We must go into camps being at that level from day one, we need to maintain that level throughout the qualification period.

"I know from being in that group, the level of learning we took from those games is beyond any kind of level of learning we would have taken if we weren't in Group A.

"We have to make sure that we take that; if we don't take that it will be borderline criminal."

Listen to more from Jess Fishlock in the BBC Radio Wales Sport Review of the Year, Saturday, 30 December (14:00 GMT) and later on demand.

Read Entire Article