Wales U17 squad

City trio represent Wales in Turkey

Three young Bluebirds gained further international experience this month, as they continued their preparations for the Elite Round of the 2024 European U17 Championship.

Ronan Kpakio, Jake Davies and Jac Thomas, who have all contributed to a positive season for City’s U18s, were selected for Wales’ U17 camp. Taking on Bosnia & Herzegovina in two friendlies in Antalya, the side claimed a 2-2 draw, as well as an impressive 4-0 win. The City trio reflected on a positive camp of preparation for next month’s Elite Round:

Ronan: “It’s always been a great experience to go away with Wales and I think it’s good that we can bond on every camp. It’s helpful that we get to play friendlies in preparation for next month’s Elite Round. We’re in a good place and I think we’ve got a really strong chance of doing well. Overall, it’s a good experience just to be around different people and in a different environment.”

Jake: “I was happy to get a call-up, and it was a good experience for me. I really enjoyed it. The boys did well in both games, drew 2-2 then in the second game, it was a dominant performance in a 4-0 win, and I was happy to get my first international goal. It was a good camp for me personally.”

Jac: “It’s always an honour to go and play for Wales. Every camp, we seem to be gelling better as a team, and we’re becoming a really good side now. I fancy our chances in the Elite Round, but I think the more camps we’ve been on, we’re becoming closer as a team and we’re playing better. Going away with Wales is good experience with new boys coming in, interacting with other people. At Cardiff City, you’re working with the same boys all the time, so it’s good to challenge yourself by meeting new people, working with different coaches and learning different ways of playing. I really enjoyed it.”

Wales U17 squad

In next month’s Elite Round, Wales will take on Romania, Sweden and Bulgaria in Group Two. The side will be aiming to repeat the achievements of last year’s age group, who qualified for the European U17 Championship Finals in 2023, the first time since 1981.

Jac: “The boys last year did really well and for a country like Wales, it’s a privilege to get to the Euros, because it’s quite difficult with the amount of teams that are in the competition. To get to the finals is a real achievement. We’re just hoping to do the same thing again and qualify for those finals. We want to go to Cyprus and give it our best shot.”

Ronan: “When you’re travelling, especially abroad, you have to try and prepare in the best way possible, because you want to play the best you can. Off the pitch, you have to do the right stuff. It’s really exciting, but you have to make sure that you act like a professional. I think it’s good to be able to go into two different environments. We’re at City most of the week and it’s great to spend time with people here and play in the league, but going away, it gives you chances to meet new people, new coaches and play in different ways. Here, we have a different way of playing with Wales, so it’s good to try new formations.”

Jake: “It’s a good feeling and the boys are looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can progress to the Euros in May. We want to get through the elites. In the last few games, the boys have been playing really well, so we’re confident going into it.”

City’s Dane Facey, who holds the role of Head of Coaching at the Bluebirds’ Academy in Llanrumney, is a part of the Wales U17 coaching staff.

Commenting on having a familiar face in camp, Jac concluded: “Having Dane on the camps is a good thing for us. If we ever need anything or want to ask any questions, it’s good to have Dane there, who we know more personally. We can go to him if we have any issues. All the boys enjoy having Dane around. He’s good to have around the dressing room and in the squad. It’s really nice to have him on camp with us.”