U.S. in WC group is winnable game – Wales coach
Wales interim manager Rob Page has said the game against the United States men’s national team in Qatar is “winnable” after they qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 62 years.
Wales secured a 1-0 win over Ukraine in their qualification playoff final on Sunday and will now play in Group B along with the U.S., Iran and neighbours England in the tournament which starts on Nov. 21.
“We have played against the USA. We know they are a really strong outfit. We played against their European-based players, in my first game,” Page told BBC Wales, referring to a 0-0 friendly in November 2020.
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“They [and Iran] are winnable games and when you play against a home nations team, anything can happen,” he added.
“We will go out there with the confidence we have had going into any game. We will go toe to toe with anybody — bring it on. That’s the attitude we have got in that changing room.”
Although the last time Wales featured in the World Cup finals was in 1958, the existing squad have gained big-tournament experience through the last two European Championship campaigns.
Under manager Chris Coleman in 2016, Wales upset Belgium in the quarterfinals before being halted by Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Portugal who went on to win the tournament.
Last year, in the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, Wales qualified from a tricky group, ahead of Turkey and Switzerland, before they were beaten 4-0 by Denmark in the round of 16.
Page believes that those campaigns have helped the nation’s fan base to unite behind the team in a country where rugby union has long been viewed as the national sport.
“Growing up in the valleys it was all about rugby. We had Cardiff City and Swansea City in the old fourth division and rugby was probably the No. 1 sport. The tides have turned slightly now,” he said.
“It is because of what the boys are doing and success drives that. When you are winning it helps for people to take notice. Football has probably overtaken rugby at the moment as the number one sport in Wales,” added Page, who has been in charge of the team since Ryan Giggs stood down from the position while facing allegations of assault.
Page also gave credit to former manager Gary Speed for laying the foundations for the upturn in fortunes for the national side before his death in 2011.
“Gary Speed started it 12-13 years ago and I want to dedicate this win and qualification to him and his family,” he said. “There was a change in the tides and we created a culture and identity of how we wanted to play and it started then.”