Cymru U21 Head Coach Matty Jones revealed his opposite number paid his side a big compliment following their friendly against Austria.
Jones’ reign began with a 2-0 defeat last week after goals in each half from Bernhard Zimmermann and Muharem Huskovic in Vienna.
But Cymru dominated possession and Jones said Austria manager Werner Gregoritsch heaped praise on his side for their performance at Hohe Warte Stadium.
“I was satisfied with the efforts, attitude, dedication and desire because a lot of the players played with a lot of pride,” said Jones.
“It was a lesson for some in terms of international football and the intensity that we need to play at, but, in terms of playing a much higher-ranked team at this level, we’ve come away with some great success.
“The fact that we’ve not only performed so well in the first half, albeit being 1-0 down through an error, we dominated that first half. Even speaking to their manager after the game, he said it was one of the most difficult challenges they’ve had for a long time in terms of how we set up.
“Austria showed so much respect that they dropped back into a very deep block and his words were ‘we couldn’t control what you were doing’. That was really pleasing for me to hear and the fact that he’s come to compliment what we did. In the second half, in terms of them respecting us, they matched us up and changed their formation to try to deal with the problems we were posing.”
The friendly gave Jones the opportunity to introduce a number of players to under-21 football before Cymru’s UEFA European Under-21 qualifying campaign gets under way next year.
David Robson, Matt Baker, Charlie Savage, Jadan Raymond, Josh Farrell and Joe Taylor were all included in the starting line up and made their first appearances for the side, while others got their first taste at this level from the bench.
And while his players were left frustrated not to make a winning start to Jones’ reign, he said there was plenty to take away from the game and their first camp together.
“We’ll put the goals to one side because that’s not what bothers me” Jones added.
“Ultimately, when it comes to competition football and it’s important to win, then those things will need to be addressed. But this is all part of a journey and these boys are at the start of their journey.
“Sometimes you want them to go through some traumas because it makes them stronger and better as players and engage a lot more. I’ve come away where we’ve lost the game but ultimately I’m proud of everything the players have given me in the performance.
“The players were naturally frustrated but it’s about reminding them at times about what this means for us. We had a fantastic week working together and with everything we implemented in our game plan, we didn’t come away from that.”