Cymru frustration

as U19 tournament is cancelled

It has been a frustrating year for Rob Edwards and his U19 squad following the decision to cancel the UEFA U19 tournament.

Cymru qualified for the Elite round last November and were scheduled to host fixtures against Austria, Germany and Serbia in March. The pandemic inevitably postponed these fixtures until September, but further postponements to October and then November followed, before the decision was made to cancel the tournament altogether. The decision was made in the best interests of safety and to reduce the financial burden on national associations during this difficult period. Cymru topped the group, but this particular group will not have the opportunity to show just how far they could have gone with Cymru having never reached the finals of this competition before.

Neco Williams was one of the star players for Cymru during the first round of qualifiers which began in style as goals from Joe Adams, Sam Pearson and Keenan Patten earned Cymru an impressive 3-0 win over Poland at Rodney Parade in Newport. Two penalties from Williams proved sufficient to claim a point against Russia in a 2-2 draw in the second match, but a place in the Elite round was confirmed on the final day as goals from Harry Pinchard and Williams were enough to beat Kosovo 2-0. Williams has since established himself in Ryan Giggs' senior side, scoring the winning goal against Bulgaria in the UEFA Nations League match in September.

The UEFA Executive Committee decided to cancel the remainder of the tournament last month, the finals of which were due to be hosted in Northern Ireland. The tournament also served as  a qualifier to the FIFA U-20 World Cup – scheduled to take place in Indonesia from 20 May to 12 June 2021 – and it was decided that the five slots reserved for European teams in the competition be allocated to the teams occupying the top five positions in the UEFA qualifying round coefficient ranking for the 2019/20 season. Consequently, England, France, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal will be the European representatives nominated to participate in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

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