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Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar October 8, 2017 23:26

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Crunch

By Satish Sekar at Cardiff City Stadium © Satish Sekar (October 8th 2017)

Business End

Wales and the Republic of Ireland face a winner take all decider tomorrow night. Fresh from their historic run in last year’s Euros, Wales must do it the hard way, without their talisman, Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. But Ireland must do without their influential captain, Seamus Coleman, who is still recovering from the injury sustained in the reverse fixture just over six months ago.

Neil Taylor was sent off by referee Nicola Rizzoli for a terrible challenge on Coleman which left the Everton defender with a broken leg. Wales’ manager, who reconsidered his earlier announcement to quit at the end of this campaign, insisted that the challenge would not overshadow tomorrow’s match. However, it motivates Irish players who are keen to reach the World Cup Finals for their injured captain.

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Chris Coleman played it down at his pre-match press conference this afternoon. “I don’t think that will have a bearing on tomorrow night”, he said. “You have two sets of committed players, lots of contact I would imagine, our players know that”.

Motivation

Nevertheless the challenge and its potential impact on tomorrow’s match looms large. “It was a physical game out there [Dublin], it was unfortunate with Seamus [Coleman] and Tayls [Neil Taylor]”, he said. “It was a horrible situation, for Seamus mainly, but it’s good to see he is back and not far off. Ashley Williams speaks very highly of him”.

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It won’t be an issue for Wales. “For us, there won’t be a mention of it at all”, Wales’ manager said. “I have no idea how the Republic of Ireland are feeling or looking at it … It’s all about the future. Ireland on Monday is the future for us”.

Ireland’s manager, Martin O’Neill wants his players to win it for Seamus Coleman, but wasn’t looking for revenge. “I don’t know about revenge, but certainly I think the view among the players is that if Russia was available to us and we could make it there, I would think Seamus would be very much at the forefronts of our minds”, he said. “He has obviously been a class player, a world-class player and he’s been essential for us. We have missed him and it would be nice to go there”.

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O’Neill is understandably keen to have his skipper back – both he and assistant Roy Keane extended their contracts recently. “He is making a good recovery now, but I think that when he’s ready, he will get back to the form he showed both for club and country, and it would be nice if by the time he is back that he has got something to cheer on the international level”, O’Neill said.

Making History

The shadow of 1958 is never far – the last time Wales qualified for the World Cup. Coleman is clear that his squad were not around 50, 60 years ago, and that 1958 doesn’t matter. They have made their own history, but as Coleman said last year, they had to build on the Euros. He said then that he would consider it a failure if Wales did not qualify for the World Cup.

“I won’t be talking about 1958”, he said. “I will say, this is what we are up against. This is what we have to do to be successful now go out and enjoy it”.

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After Scotland were held to a 2-2 draw by Slovenia in Srečko Katanec’s last match in charge of his second spell as Slovenia boss, both teams know that a win will ensure at least a play-off berth, and depending on Serbia’s result, possibly automatic qualification.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar October 8, 2017 23:26