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Wales : Nothing must get in the way tonight
Saturday, 13th Nov 2021 11:37 by Gruff Stephens

Wales step in to the spotlight tonight as they go for the win against Belarus. Rob Page’s men, minus Swansea City’s Ben Cabango, Dundee United’s Dylan Levitt and a suspended Kieffer Moore will go all out for the three points. Then it is one more to gain from their final game on Tuesday against Belgium.

It isn’t enough for Page that they have already qualified through a superb Nations league campaign which means a third place group finish was sufficient for a play off place in March next year. “It is great for the supporters to know that we have a play-off," said the Wales head At the moment we have two games left and an opportunity to give us a more favourable tie in a play-off. Our full aim is on that, we want to finish second and win both games. We want to build that momentum and take it into March.” It’s obvious that qualification in the week without kicking a ball due to Spain beating Greece was welcomed, but four points has to be the goal over the next four days.

Swansea City’s Ben Cabango withdrew from the Wales squad in the week.

Wales will be without Kieffer Moore tonight. The striker is suspended after picking up two yellow cards. Tyler Roberts could be asked to fill the gap left by Moore. Page may alternatively choose to pick Bale up front, or perhaps revert to Ramsey in the false-nine role as he did in the friendlies before the euro’s over the summer. Apart from the two omissions already mentioned and of course Moore’s suspension Wales will go in to the game extremely confident. A week of preparation, bonding and a decent group qualification has ensured Wales are favourites, plus their drive to succeed should far outweigh Belarus who have nothing to play for. Apart from pride that is.

Gareth Bale knows too well that last failures can also weigh heavily on the mind. “The World Cup is top of everyone’s list. We have had down moments like against Ireland (in 2017, when Wales lost their final Group D qualifier 1-0 ) and other situations, so hopefully we can lean on that experience and that hurt to drive us on further and have that bit more knowhow on how to do things. We’ll definitely be diving back into a bit of experience to try and help us and hopefully the youngsters can give us that little advantage. Bale who is most certainly in the twilight of his career has one more chance to qualify for a World Cup. “When a fan plays for your own national team you bring that passion with you. It is hard to describe the feeling of playing for Wales. It is such a special country. It’s such a special bond between the players, the staff, the fans, and even the media are a little bit nicer to us … it is just a special country to be a part of. I’m very proud and honoured to be a Welshman.”

Dan James, the ex Swansea City player now with Leeds United is also pivotal to tonight’s game, and he knows there is far more to come from him. “I’ve not reached my potential yet. I’m getting a lot more game time now and I’ve obviously got my own goals. I’ve got so much more I can improve on, so much more to give. Hopefully I’ll show that in the coming years” Growing Up quickly in the full glare of the media, a media which reports when you have a child, get married or even go out for a kebab hasn’t unsettled the twenty four year old. His pace will be vital to any Wales win.

Dan James is another player vital to the Wales cause tonight.

It shouldn’t go unrecognised either that Gareth Bale will achieve a hundred caps for his country tonight. "I'm very proud and honoured to be a Welshman," said the 32-year-old. "To get 100 caps will personally be an incredible achievement and one you never think about when you start out. It's my country, it's my place of birth, it's where I've grown up. You have that special connection. Wales has that extra special thing - we have that connection with the fans. We were all fans growing up. When a fan plays for your own national team you kind of bring that passion with you”

Rob Page holds Bale in very high regards. “I think a lot of boys and girls will look up to him, how he lives his life as well as what he does on the football pitch,” Page said. “The way he takes care of himself now, I think he’s gone to another level with that. He has been an inspiration to a lot of young children over the years. He leads by example.” With that experience, quality and passion in the Wales dressing room there is little to blame if tonight’s game doesn’t go to plan.

For Tuesdays game we shouldn’t forget, and we are sure the Belgians won’t that Wales have won two of their last three games against Belgium, and lost only once in their last five. Thats for the future of course and tonight is the next hurdle. Belarus is a must win, no doubts about it.

S4C will be showing the game live. Their coverage starts at 7:15pm. Sky Sports will also be screening the fixture. Coverage on their Football channel gets under way at 7pm while their Main Event channel will have the match from 8pm. BBC Radio has a selection of options and the game is LIVE on Talk Sport

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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