Monday 11 December 2017

Coleman sanguine after Wales' unwanted gift

Wales boss Chris Coleman admits he must embrace their Euro 2016 clash with Roy Hodgson's England
Wales boss Chris Coleman admits he must embrace their Euro 2016 clash with Roy Hodgson's England

Nick Mashiter

Wales boss Chris Coleman admits he must embrace their Euro 2016 clash with England. The former defender insisted before the draw on yesterday evening he did not want to face Roy Hodgson's men in France next year, but they were both drawn in Group B.

Slovakia and Russia make up the rest of the group, with Wales facing England in Lens on June 16 after reaching their first major tournament since 1958. And Coleman knows he must now relish the chance to play the Three Lions.

"Well, we've got them, it will be a great game, it is two good teams and to win 10 games in the campaign is a fantastic return. England are one of the best teams in the competition, and we looked at it and would have wanted to avoid it, but we look forward to it," said Coleman.

"Roy Hodgson knows this with his experience, but when you get to a tournament like this, it's about the 90 minutes on the day and you have to get it right. It does not matter who you play. Slovakia had some great results, and Russia are Russia. You just have to prepare yourselves in the same way. I was so honoured and proud to be here, representing Wales was a fantastic feeling. I am very excited, we're in a group with some hot competition. But that is why we are here, we deserve to be here and I think the tournament will be a fantastic one."

Wales' star man and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale also tweeted: "Tough @UEFAEURO draw but cannot wait to get out to France, all starting to sink in now" while Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey wrote: "All getting very real now the draw has been made. Can't wait to face England." Ex-Wales and Arsenal striker John Hartson added that Wales must look at their opening game against Slovakia in Bordeaux on June 11 - before they face England and then Russia on June 20 - as a golden chance.

"Look at Russia and England, they are a lot stronger than Slovakia. Wales kick off against Slovakia so it's an opportunity to get three points on the board as early as you can. One win may be enough to take you through," said Hartson.

"Chris won't have to say anything to his players. They will know everything about them and play against them more or less week in, week out in the Premier League. It's a brilliant draw for both England and Wales."

Swansea caretaker manager and former Wales international Alan Curtis, who saw his side lose 2-1 at Manchester City yesterday, also believes Wales should be feared after their rise up the world rankings in the last two years.

"It is a great draw - a nice easy one for us! I am sure everyone will be really looking forward to it. I think it is fantastic. I know Chris perhaps said he didn't want it (England) but it is there now, so just embrace it and go for it," said Curtis.

"You've got the top seeds, then after that nobody will want to play Wales because of our performances and results over the last couple of years. We should embrace it and what an occasion it will be."

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