Women's Football

Wales make history by reaching 2023 World Cup playoffs

Ali Rampling
Wales have qualified for the World Cup playoffs
Wales have qualified for the World Cup playoffs / Athena Pictures/GettyImages
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Wales made history on Tuesday evening as they qualified for the Women's World Cup playoffs for the very first time following a 0-0 draw with Slovenia.

The result confirmed Wales' second place finish in Group I behind group winners France and two points ahead of Tuesday evening's opponents Slovenia - who would have leapfrogged Gemma Grainger's side with victory.

The match also drew a record crowd for a Wales Women's match, with 12,741 supporters in attendance at the Cardiff City Stadium. Just 1,700 fans had attended Wales' first home qualifier of this 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The previous attendance record saw a crowd of 5,455 take in Wales' victory over Estonia at the Cardiff City Stadium in October 2021.

After a frantic 90 minutes finished goalless, Wales masterfully saw out the game as the clock agonisingly ticked down, triggering scenes of delirium at full time and animated celebrations from boss Grainger.

"I couldn't be prouder of the players," Grainger told BBC Sport. "I think they absolutely deserve that tonight. I'm so proud and really pleased for them. I think the players need to take all the credit for us.

"The 12,00 supporters were behind us, they were wanting us to do well and the players have fed off that. We felt it, and now we want even more."

The draw for the playoffs will take place on Friday 9 September.

As one of six worst runners up in qualifying, Wales will play a one-legged playoff on 6 October 2022 in order to progress to another one-legged playoff on 11 October.

The three playoff winners will then be ranked according to group results plus their second playoff results, with the top two securing their place at the 2023 World Cup. The third side will instead advance to the inter-confederation play-offs, featuring a further nine sides from North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

The Republic of Ireland will enter the second round of the playoffs, having secured their spot as a best runner up with a 1-0 victory over Slovakia thanks to Denise O'Sullivan's first half strike.

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