Wales women: Manager Jayne Ludlow 'can't wait' for qualification push

Jayne Ludlow
Jayne Ludlow, Arsenal's record goalscorer, scored 19 goals in 61 Wales appearances

Boss Jayne Ludlow says she "can't wait" for Wales' Euro 2021 qualifying campaign to begin.

Wales have never qualified for a major finals, but beat World Cup-bound New Zealand in Cardiff on Tuesday to end a season of steady improvement.

Despite being without her first choice midfield, Ludlow saw another impressive performance from her team in front of a record crowd for a women's friendly.

"We can't wait for the next tournament to start," Ludlow told BBC Sport Wales.

"For us we are improving still and that is a positive. Onwards and upwards.

"Right now we're in a different position as a group. We go into the next competition just building on what we know and what we can do well."

Wales had gone over 12 hours without scoring before Kayleigh Green's late header, having failed to find the net since June last year.

However, Ludlow insists she was never overly concerned by that statistic, even though she admits the goal and the win will be a further confidence boost to her side.

"It's nice, more-so for the playing group, if I'm honest, than us because it's the confidence builder that is just a positive for us going into the competition," she added.

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"We've stepped onto a pitch against a team that are going to the World Cup and the reality is we've managed to beat them.

"It was a test that we needed right now.

"For us it's about winning as many games as we can and to do that we have to be hard to beat and clean sheets are a priority for us and thankfully we had that again against New Zealand.

"There were moments when I thought that might not actually happen, but to score at the other end was a bonus."

Wales head into the qualification campaign for Euro 2021 in good heart, attracting bigger crowds and in a group where they have benefitted from an improved seeding.

They begin their campaign against the Faroe Islands on 29 August in a group also featuring Belarus, Norway and Northern Ireland.

Despite the friendly with New Zealand being played in poor weather conditions at what is traditionally an athletics stadium, Ludlow was thrilled to attract a crowd of over 2,000.

"It was great. Sitting there watching the warm-up and seeing people still coming in is fantastic for us," she said.

"Again, if you think where we were two years ago, we wouldn't have had anywhere near that crowd on a rainy Tuesday evening so it's positive, it's great.

"Hopefully we're keeping the fans who have been coming in the past and we're gaining some new ones."

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