Sunday 18 March 2018

Wales boss: Resilient Bale will be ready for whatever is thrown at him

Wales manager Chris Coleman. Photo: Reuters
Wales manager Chris Coleman. Photo: Reuters
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Wales manger Chris Coleman has shrugged off Roy Keane's suggestion that the Ireland players must 'hit' Gareth Bale in order to stop him during this evening's qualifier.

Earlier in the week, Ireland's assistant manager suggested that his players need to "Hit him... fairly" and that "tackling is part of the bloody game".

Coleman, however, was unperturbed by the idea of Martin O'Neill's side singling Bale out for special treatment. "Whatever Ireland have got planned for Gareth, it won't be anything new, that's for sure," he said.

"If you think about where he plays and the level of football he plays at, the intrusion into his life because of who he is and who he plays for, there is nothing that will come tomorrow that he won't be ready for. He will be familiar with all of it.

"You have to be if you are in one of best players - you have to get used to all of that but what do I make of the comments? I won't worry about that."

Coleman also dismissed John Giles' comments that Wales are an average team without Bale, saying:

"I must be a hell of a manager then. I'm happy with Johnny Giles' comments. It makes me look very good. When the whistle blows we will lock horns and we will see what comes out of it.

"For the record, we had two players in the team of the tournament (Euros) and one of those was Aaron Ramsey. The other one was Joe Allen so we have got good players and we are against good players."

Coleman admitted that he felt Ireland's biggest threat was that they are not a team of individuals as he likened their spirit to that of his own side.

"I think they're a team and I think that's just as big a strength as any one individual or one great player that you've got in the team.

"If you've got a team that plays together, who are organised, who are passionate, which Ireland are, then that's their biggest threat," he said.

"We probably play slightly differently but in terms of passion, commitment and energy, the two teams are very, very similar."

Wales trail Group D leaders Ireland by four points but Coleman insisted that this evening's clash was not a must-win game, despite his side not yet finding the kind of form that saw them reach the semi-finals of the Euros last summer.

"I think we've lost focus at important times maybe," he added.

"But for all that, it's different for us this time around, we can hardly go under the radar now - we're deemed a bit of a scalp. People look at us and think, 'If they can get something against Wales, it's a huge result', whereas maybe before it wasn't.

"Whatever happens (tonight) or in this campaign their attitude and application is the best I have ever seen and they are at a great age.

"So they will go on and on and they will achieve long after I will be here. Everybody puts so much pressure on this game but that is up to them. I've got full belief in them and their form.

"Why do I trust them? Look what they have done. Not in the tournament. Way before the tournament. Nine times out of ten they have performed so I am not worried about tomorrow night.

"I'm respectful about who we are up against. I'm not worried if we don't get the three points. It is not over if we don't win. Far from it."

Irish Independent

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