A solid start to the UEFA Under 21 qualifying campaign has seen new intermediate team manager Rob Page enjoy two victories from his opening three away games, and the former Wales defender will now be looking for his side to build on their impressive start with two home games against Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 November) and Romania (14 November) at the VSM Bangor City Stadium.
The Group 8 qualifying action started for Wales back in September, and Page's side made an immediate impression on their rivals with a 3-0 win away to Switzerland through goals from Tyler Roberts, David Brooks and George Thomas. However, a 2-0 defeat to an impressive Portugal side in Chaves a few days later dented their progress, but they made amends last month with a 3-1 victory in Liechtenstein. Matthew Smith scoring the third goal to add to a George Thomas brace.
Currently level with Bosnia and Herzegovina, this is a crucial double-header for the side against two strong opponents, but Page believes his side are ready for the challenge ahead. Wales have never qualified for the finals of the UEFA Under-21 tournament, but were narrowly edged out of a place back in 2009. Rivals England were the play-off opponents for Brian Flynn's side back then, but a 5-4 aggregate victory ensured that England would head to Sweden at Wales' expense. England subsequently went through to the final, but suffered a 4-0 defeat to Germany.
Manager Vinko Marinovic brings his Bosnia and Herzegovina side to Wales high in confidence for the opening match following their surprising and impressive 3-1 victory over Portugal last month. Level with Wales on six points in Group 8, Bosnia and Herzegovina have played a game more than Rob Page's side, and will now be looking to add consistency to the second half of the qualifying campaign.
Bosnia and Herzegovina opened the group back in March with a resounding 6-0 win over Liechtenstein in Zenica. Mico Kuzmanovic grabbed a brace in the victory, and was amongst five different goalscorers as the group minnows were comfortably brushed aside. However, the side were unable to capitalise on the victory when they travelled to Switzerland for their next qualifier in June, and an early goal from Swiss captain Nicolas Haas proved to be the difference between the two sides in Biel.
Returning to Zenica to host Romania in September, Bosnia and Herzegovina had the perfect start when they took the lead through an own goal from Dragos Nedelcu after 23 minutes, but the visitors regrouped and responded to eventually win the match 3-1. Despite the setback, Marinovic's side produced their best performance and result against Portugal last month, as goals from Besim Serbecic, Ermedin Demirovic and Luka Menalo sealed a famous 3-1 victory.
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The action continues four days later when Wales host Romania. The current Group 8 leaders after winning three of their opening four games, Romania are the early pacesetters, but face a crucial qualifier against Portugal in Ovidiu before heading to Wales for their second game in this international week. Undefeated and currently boasting the best defensive record in the group, this will be a defining double-header for Daniel Isaila's side.
Two goals from George Puscas ensured that Romania would open their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein at Eschen in June, and Puscas was again on target as his side came from behind against Bosnia and Herzegovina in September to maintain their perfect start with a 3-1 win. Romania returned to Ovidiu to take on Switzerland a few days later and dropped their only points of the campaign to date in a 1-1 draw.
The two sides met again in Lugano last month, and it was Romania that would take the points as goals from Mihai Dobre and Alexandru Cicaldau earned Isaila's team a 2-0 victory. With four goals in as many games, George Puscas will be the key figure to watch when the side head to Wales, and having played 17 games at this level he is something of a veteran. Currently on-loan at Italian side Benevento from Inter Milan, he scored the goal that confirmed promotion to Serie A for his side back in June.
Both qualifiers kick-off at 6pm and will be shown live on S4C Sgorio.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Wales U21 Digital Match Programme v Bosnia & Herzegovina and Romania [click here]
Article courtesy of www.faw.cymru
Updated 22:21 - 14 Nov 2017 by Kevin Owen