Friday, December 2, 2022

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Wales’ elimination from the World Cup is ‘incredibly hard to take’ – boss Grainger

Head coach Gemma Grainger admitted Wales’ elimination from the World Cup was “incredibly difficult to take” after the Swiss winner prevented a last-minute penalty shoot-out in Zurich.

Wales appeared to be edging closer to next summer’s World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand when Rhiannon Roberts put them ahead in their European play-off final.

But Ramona Bachmann equalized just before half-time and Switzerland won in dramatic fashion when substitute Fabienne Humm struck in extra-time with what was practically the last shot.

Grainger told BBC Wales: “It’s incredibly difficult to take. We know margins are decent at this level and it showed tonight.

“But I am incredibly proud of this group. I’m proud that we’re competing at this level and the plan for us is to continue to do so.

“We’re so proud of it (campaign) but I know we’re disappointed right now because we know we can win these games and we can be successful.”

In an eventful encounter, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic’s second-half penalty didn’t count as the Swiss shot at the post before saving the rebound.

As no Welsh player touched the ball in between, the goal was correctly disallowed. Bachmann had also ruled out a late try for offside following a VAR review.

Wales, who have never qualified for a major women’s tournament, had struggled through a 10-game qualifying stage in which they finished second in their group behind France.

The Dragons had needed overtime to beat Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-off semifinals on Thursday and Grainger’s side were noticeably tired at the Stadion Letzigrund as they played 120 minutes again.

“You have to look at what we’ve done in this campaign,” Grainger said.

“The mentality we showed here to play away against this Swiss team showed our resilience.

“We went through another overtime and came so close to taking that game to penalties.

“The dominant emotion must be disappointment. To concede the goal at that point is really difficult because when you get to that point you prepare yourself to go to penalties.”

Wales may need to rebuild ahead of the next campaign with the likes of Kayleigh Green, Helen Ward, Jess Fishlock and Natasha Harding in the twilight of their careers.

But Grainger said: “It’s nights like this and moments like this that you always remember and take with you.

“This experience will make us stronger and will undoubtedly take us further.

“What we need to do on this team is recognize that we’ve come further than we’ve ever done.

“What we need to take away from this campaign is learning and development because our story doesn’t end there. It starts here.”

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