All the reaction from South Wales FA after securing famous qualification to intermediate stage of UEFA Regions Cup
South Wales FA made history by becoming the first Welsh amateur outfit to reach the intermediate stage of the UEFA Regions Cup following a convincing win over Evia Region at Jenner Park.
In the aftermath of the game, Y Clwb Pel-Droed caught up with some of the players and management staff in what was a special day for the Red Dragons in the Vale of Glamorgan after sealing a famous victory over Greek outfit Evia Region in the bathing South Wales sunshine on Sunday afternoon.
After defeating Evia Region, Wales coach Rogan Matthews couldn’t believe what the side had achieved over the course of the tournament.
He said: “It is just absolutely outstanding to be the first representative nation to go through to the Preliminary Round. It has been key having good backroom staff and the right selection of players.
“Some people have questioned our selection but to win two out of the three games has just gone to show how much confidence are in these players which have taken us to the next stage.
“We’ve really got to push on and enjoy it. We’ve now got to take a full strong squad to the next tournament. The boys have been tremendous absolutely tremendous. We kind of underestimated FYR Macedonia but the ability of their team was second to none.
“We learnt off that result a lot and were eager to bounce back. We got back on the training field and worked hard. We knew we had to win against Greece whatever happened. We knew we could finish first, second, third or fourth and our aim was to finish in the top two.
“We went out there today and beat top of the league comfortably. We got the ball down, created chances and limited the Greeks to a lot of things. We could have easily dropped our heads and turned up today and lost against top of the league but we’ve come out with victory and finished second in the group.
“The boys in there have showed great attitude, some players had the chance to play, some didn’t and no one has moaned or questioned once which is good. With us progressing it will mean a new experience.
“I think with us progressing in this tournament has really put us on the map. Wales as a nation is improving at a rapid speed. Grassroots Football, Amateur,Semi-Pro and the Welsh Premier League football is all progressing which is great to see. We will now look forward to the next set of challenges”.
Penydarren striker Connor Keating scored a goal from close-range which sent Wales on their way to victory and he was delighted with how the lads performed from the first minute at Jenner Park.
He said: “It is a great feeling. Obviously we knew we had to win and to get the opening goal within the first 2 minutes was a fantastic feeling. Even the subs that came on were brilliant. Everybody done their role and done exactly what the manager asked for.
“We Stood our ground, followed our men and from one to 90 it was just an amazing game. The dressing room is absolutely bouncing. For such a big group of players from several clubs, the cohesion has been brilliant and everybody is bouncing off each other.
“I will now go to the qualifiers, but first I will continue to get back with Penydarren for our new campaign in the Welsh Football League. I definitely think our squad is good enough to go up and hopefully we can do so.”
Bridgend Street defender Richard Noyes went onto add to what Keating described as a phenomenal achievement for the whole team.
He said: “I am buzzing to get my first call up and the way this tournament has gone for ourselves has been fantastic. I don’t think we were expected to qualify but to get through as a team is brilliant.
“All the boys love each other and we have a great togetherness. The camp has been absolutely amazing and it is a bit hard at the same time because you are going from training once a week to playing once a week but now to go to training every day to playing three times a week is a big step but we have all done exceptionally well.”
Captain and goalkeeper Stephen Price also reflected on South Wales FA qualifying for the intermediate stage of the competition and acknowledged what an unbelievable experience it has been for the entire squad again, just like in San Marino, two years ago.
“To get my second call-up is brilliant. To be honest with you the first call-up, when we went to San Marino was a little bit different as it’s nice to have people able to come and watch the matches much closer than last time and I think the boys had a real big buzz from that.
“On a personal note my dad followed me around watching football wherever I have played so it was good for him to have the opportunity for him to come and watch me on our home turf. The boys have done well and it now looks like we should be progressing to the next round.
“To now have another opportunity to represent Wales again and to go away and jump on that plane at Heathrow with the boys in our welsh tracksuits is just another unforgettable experience which we all deserve.
“I said to the boys again that the support has been fantastic having them watching us all week but going away again will be another amazing experience. To be named Welsh captain was an amazing feeling.
“Looking at the quality and calibre of players that are in the squad it just makes you feel fantastic. The fact that I’m the oldest in the squad and have a fair bit of experience makes it special but the boys have been fantastic through this journey.
“Every match and training day, Dan the physio also makes sure players are 100% fit before they step out on the pitch so that side of the camp has been brilliant and really professional.
“The spirit of this camp has been exceptional and for it to continue for the first time is an amazing feeling. To get off to the start we did really helped and the bond between every one of us is fantastic.”
(Featured image: Lewis Mitchell)