The last time Wales appeared in a FIFA World Cup, a young Pele was about to lead Brazil to a title win way back in 1958.
When Wales take on the US at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Monday, the team captained by Gareth Bales will end a 64-year-old wait to appear in the World Cup once again.
Despite the long wait, young defender Ethan Ampadu doesn’t seem to be too bothered by Wales’ lack of World Cup appearances in more than six decades.
“We have settled well (in Qatar) since arriving. We are all excited ahead of the World Cup. Everyone is fit and ready to go. There’s a good spirit in the camp and everybody is relaxed,” Ampadu, 22, said yesterday at a press conference.
“I am not sure if it’s more of a responsibility (of doing well on World Cup return). I think it is what it is. It is the World Cup. We are here to do the best we can and to show how good we are,” he said confidently.
“We’re here to compete and try to win every game. We are here to do the best that we can and if that gives us a possibility to win it, then of course, we’re going to back ourselves,” Ampadu, who plays for Serie A side Spezia on loan from Chelsea, added.
Ampadu said Wales – coached by Rob Page – won’t be taking the US – captained by talismanic Christian Pulisic – lightly when the two sides open their Group B campaign on Monday.
“It’s going to be a difficult game, of course. We are here for the World Cup. I suppose that’s how it’s going to be no matter who the opposition is. They have great players. We should try to get past them. We have to show what we can do,” Ampadu said.
“I think no matter what team you play, you have to go with that mindset that it’s the World Cup. No team is here to draw or lose,” he said.
When asked about the warm weather that greeted Wales and other teams in Qatar, Ampadu dismissed it as a concern.
“Well, it’s going to be warm for everyone (and not just us). That’s what I am going to say about it. Not sure if they (Wales group rivals) are used to the heat or not, better ask them. What matters to us is how well we do here. We can’t change that,” Ampadu said.
Wales forward Mark Harris, however, said his teammates would make the most of the coming three days before opening their World Cup campaign against the US.
“Hopefully it will be cooler in the evening.
“It was warm when we were walking during the day. We are not used to heat like this. I won’t say any team has any advantage over the other rivals. I am sure the training in the next few days will help us acclimatise better,” Harris said yesterday.
Harris, the Cardiff City star, his team would be aiming ‘for three points’ against the US. “They got some quality players. They are a good side. They also have qualified for the World Cup. Their captain Pulisic is a great player. For sure it will be a tough match but we will be playing for three points,” Harris, 23, added.
Harris said playing in the World Cup would highlight Wales’ potential on the big stage.
“Wales playing in a World Cup has taken 64 years. We have got to two Euro Championships recently but this is the world’s biggest stage. We clearly want to win but we will see how far we can go,” Harris said.
“We arrive for every match to win. Our main focus right now is the US. The next three days of training will be all about taking on the US,” he added.
Harris said he found staying in Qatar enjoyable.
“The hotels are great. We have our own little room for games and other activities. The hotel has everything we need. There are recovery rooms, the gyms. So far so good,” he said before leaving the press conference for his team’s training session at Al Sadd pitch 2.
Wales face Iran on November 25 and wrap up the group stage with a clash against England on November 29.
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