Gemma Grainger hopes record crowd will be key in Wales' World Cup qualifier against Slovenia

Gemma Grainger in training
Gemma Grainger was named Wales manager on a four-year contract in March 2021

Wales manager Gemma Grainger hopes another record crowd will tip the balance in her team's favour in their final World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.

Grainger feels Wales' fans can be key in a match which could be a straight fight for a World Cup play-off place.

"It really does make a difference when you walk into a stadium," Grainger told BBC Sport Wales.

"When we have been away from home, we have felt very much that we have been away from home.

"When I walked into the Austria [World Cup play-off] game with the men [in March], I knew immediately the competitive advantage the fans would give - you just can't underestimate it.

"We are looking forward to having the same thing for us."

Wales' women are looking to qualify for a first major tournament in their history.

France have already claimed the one automatic qualification spot in Group I, with Wales currently on course for the play-offs in second spot.

Grainger's team are two points better off than Slovenia, with Greece a point and a place further back.

Wales travel to Greece on 2 September, while Slovenia host Kazakhstan.

Greece face a daunting trip to France on the final day of qualifying.

Gemma Grainger on Natasha Harding

The current record for a home Wales women's international is 5,455, for the 4-0 win over Estonia in October 2021.

"That's probably the most exciting thing for us - the hope that the Red Wall will come out to Cardiff and support us," Grainger added.

"The one thing that will help this team to be successful will be the fans.

"They have done that for us throughout this campaign. We want them to turn up in Cardiff.

"It's quite an intimidating environment already and when Slovenia come and visit us, I want them to feel very much like they are nowhere near home. The Red Wall can play a big part in that."

'Deliver the plan'

Wales will play a friendly against New Zealand - who are co-hosts of next year's World Cup with Australia - in Spain on 28 June.

Grainger says the game will be useful ahead of the September qualifiers, although she is determined not to look too far ahead.

"We are going to play New Zealand as part of our preparation," she said.

"The nicest thing for me and the team is that we know what we need to do in September. We will play the Greece game and tick that off, then we'll play the Slovenia game.

"It is exciting for us and for everyone outside, but actually game nine and 10 are the same as game one to eight [in the qualifying group].

"It's a case of turning up and doing what we know we are capable of. If we can deliver the plan that we will prepare, we'll know we are in with a very good chance of achieving what we want to achieve."

Banner Image Reading Around the BBC - BlueFooter - Blue

Top Stories