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Wales will be back amongst the big guns once again, after they booked their place in the qualifying rounds for the 2009 UEFA Women's Championships in Finland.
Gwennan Harries was a part of the squad which finished top of a mini tournament in Macedonia last week and she told Women's Soccer Scene that the players are delighted at their achievement. "It's brilliant to be competing in the top tier of European football," she said. "All the girls are ecstatic and we can't wait for the draw."
The Cardiff City striker admitted that qualification had not been easy. "The group was hard," she said. "We knew we were the top seeds and therefore expected to go through, but we didn't take the other teams lightly. We knew that, if we played to our capabilities, there should be no reason for us not to go through but saying that, we didn't underestimate the other teams and they all gave us a good game.
"The last game against Kazakhstan was probably the hardest because they, along with us, had won their first two games so it was the decider but we played our game, fought hard and deserved to go through.
"During the first two games, the weather was fairly warm but everyone coped fine. The last game was wet and a bit windy, that suited us because it's just like the Welsh weather!"
Reaching this stage, particulary after a number of years in the wilderness, has been a fine achievement by the Welsh squad and Gwennan is confident that, in time, they can push on from there. "It means a lot to get this far," she replies. "We have a very good squad with the seniors and also a great youth system with the under-17s and under-19s, which shows that the country is developing greatly. But to compete among the best will help us massively to improve more and reach higher standards, which can only help the team achieve greater things.
"We are confident we can acquit ourselves well in the qualifiers, we have a very good squad which is improving and gaining confidence with every game. Coming first or second would signify a great campaign but, to be honest, we are happy to be competing with the best teams and we just want to go out and perform well and show teams what we are capable of."
The draw will take place on 13 December in Nyon. Are there any countries that Wales would like to be drawn against - maybe even England? "Every team we are going to be drawn against is going to be difficult and a good test for us," replies Gwennan. "We haven't really got a preference as to which country we draw. With several of our players playing in the English Premier League, drawing England would make for two interesting games though!"
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