Monday 16 September 2019

Chris Coleman welcomes pressure of playing for World Cup play-off in final game

Chris Coleman predicts a 'sensational atmosphere' for the final qualifier against the Republic of Ireland
Chris Coleman predicts a 'sensational atmosphere' for the final qualifier against the Republic of Ireland

Wales boss Chris Coleman has welcomed the pressure of claiming a World Cup play-off place going down to the final game.

Coleman's side beat Georgia 1-0 in Tbilisi to ensure they would be in pole position for second spot ahead of their group finale with the Republic of Ireland on Monday.

Tom Lawrence came up with a stunning 49th-minute winner to give Wales a third-successive Group D victory.

"I think it will be a sensational atmosphere in Cardiff," Coleman said.

"The Republic will come to party, they won't fear us.

"They won't be afraid, they'll come to us and expect to get a result.

"We'll be up against it, but these are the games you want to be involved in.

"How many times have we've been in this position with nothing on it?

"We always seem to play other countries who are involved and celebrating - but we welcome the pressure."

A draw against the Republic might be enough to book Wales' place in the November play-offs.

But Coleman said Wales will play their normal game and go out to win the match.

" We're on dangerous ground if we go in with a game plan of trying to soak the pressure up for 90 minutes," Coleman said.

"We are too good to do that. we'll go and attack, go and score goals, we have to do that - it's our strength.

"A point maybe OK, but we'll go for three points. that's the way it's set up."

Wales were without their star man Gareth Bale in Tbilisi as the Real Madrid forward was ruled out with a calf strain earlier in the week.

But Lawrence - like Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn against Austria last month - stepped up when Wales needed a hero.

"I'm delighted for Tom, he deserves it," Coleman said.

"He did a real good job versus Austria in a tough game, he came off the pitch and Ben scored a famous goal.

"It was all about Ben, the same in Moldova. Tom went off in Moldova for Ben and he set up the goal, so it was about him again.

"Tom's done good work for us, though, and this was all about him.

"He absolutely nailed his job, both in possession and out of possession, and showed great courage and maturity."

Georgia remain without a win in the group and coach Vladimir Weiss said injuries had taken its toll on his young side.

"It's not just two or three, we were missing key midfielders," Weiss said.

"We have players without a club or who don't play much and that is a huge problem.

"We did not take our chances and that is something we have had throughout the qualifying campaign.

"The players gave everything, but the final ball is something we have been missing through the campaign."

PA Media

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