WALES’ women’s football manager Jarmo Matikainen says it could be time for a female coach to succeed him – after he’s guided the side to next year’s World Cup, writes Andrew Penman.
The Finn has been in charge of the national women’s team for four years and he faces one of the biggest matches of his reign at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday night.
Wales host group leaders England in their penultimate World Cup qualifier (kick-off 7.05pm) knowing they need to win if they are to have any chance of catching the old enemy.
Matikainen’s squad are five points behind England, who need just one point from their remaining two games to secure their place at next year's tournament in Canada.
Only one team qualifies from each group, with the four best runners-up contesting two rounds of play-off matches for the remaining World Cup spot.
Wales' final Group Six tie will be away to Ukraine on September 17 in Lviv, which could be Matikainen's last game in charge.
But he says he will stay on if the side make it to Canada next year before handing over the reins to his successor, possibly a woman.
“It would definitely be my biggest achievement as a coach if I could take Wales to the World Cup,” said the 54-year-old.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved with successful teams, with good people in different roles.
“Looking back, I’ve had the privilege to work with some fantastic people in my four years with Wales.
"I hope this won't be my last home game," he said of the clash with England.
“We've got to make sure we don't play the occasion but the game.
“It is a fantastic group of people to work with and we believe that we can do it. Anything is possible.”
Anything is possible, including a female successor?
“I have said it since I came over, we need to support women's involvement in football in every way possible,” said Matikainen.
“I think one of those areas where we have worked hard is women's involvement in coaching.
“In a UEFA supported project we put together a female coaching talent group and there are some good candidates there.”