Rhian Wilkinson targets EURO 2025 qualification ahead of draw

The draw for UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 qualifying takes place on Tuesday, 5 March (midday) and new Cymru head coach Rhian Wilkinson is in position and ready to discover which nations her side will compete against for a place at the finals that will take place in Switzerland next year.

Cymru have never qualified for the finals of a senior women’s major tournament, but the side came close to reaching the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand when they narrowly lost to Switzerland 2-1 in their second play-off match. The disappointment of that defeat was highlighted by Wilkinson when she spoke to the media for the first time since her appointment last week. 

“I think sometimes the disappointment of not achieving something and being so close is the catalyst for the greatest change,” explained Wilkinson. “I’ve experienced it as a player and I’ve experienced it as a coach, it’s painful and it’s heartbreaking, and it reminds you of how much you want something. I got that impression as soon as I met the team, that they are ready. There’s a short-term plan which is absolutely to qualify for the Euros, and part of my vision for that is to make sure we’re all on the same page with that clarity of mindset.”

But while this latest campaign marks the start of a new era for Cymru, it also represents a shift from the traditional qualifying format. Following on from the recently introduced UEFA Women’s Nations League, qualifying for WEURO will follow a similar system with Cymru entering League B as a result of their relegation back in December last year. Cymru have been placed in Pot 1 for the League B draw alongside Portugal, Switzerland and Scotland and therefore will not play any of these three teams. The opponents for Wilkinson’s first campaign will be drawn from Pots 2, 3 and 4. 

In this initial League phase of qualifying, which will run between April and July, Cymru will need to finish in the top three of their four team group to qualify for the play-offs which will take place in the second half of the year. There will then be two rounds of two-legged play-offs against teams from League A and League C in order to confirm which seven nations will join the winners and runners-up from the four League A groups, and host nation Switzerland, in the finals.

In addition to deciding qualification for the WEURO finals, the qualifying campaign will also decide the make-up of the next edition of the UEFA Women’s Nations League, with promotion and relegation at stake. The change in format has been implemented with the support of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee following recommendations from a national team competitions working group aimed at improving competitiveness across the international women’s game. But for Wilkinson, the immediate focus is on improving her squad to ensure they maximise their potential.

“There’s changes I want to make but I’m not talking about big changes,” she added. “This team does not need to be completely revamped and redrawn. There is a core group of players here who are so vision-clear, and this wonderful group of young players who are coming up and learning from them that are ready to go. I do think we’ve seen the team at their best, but how do we deliver that consistently? If we can do that, then qualification is absolutely something we will be doing in the next year.”

UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 – League B Pots:

Pot 1: Portugal, Switzerland, Scotland, Cymru.

Pot 2: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary.

Pot 3: Slovakia, Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Türkiye.

Pot 4: Malta, Israel, Kosovo, Azerbaijan.

UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 calendar:

Draw: 5 March 2024

Matchdays 1 & 2: 3–9 April 2024

Matchdays 3 & 4: 29 May–4 June 2024

Matchdays 5 & 6: 10–16 July 2024

Play-off draw: 19 July 2024

Play-off round 1 (2 legs): 23–29 October 2024

Play-off round 2 (2 legs): 27 November–3 December 2024

Finals draw: 16 December 2024

Finals: 2–27 July 2025 (Switzerland)

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