Page: Wales have 'huge confidence' they can progress from Group B

‘This campaign is about history, community and Wales’: Rob Page insists that his team have ‘huge confidence’ that they can progress from Group B at the World Cup

  • Rob Page says his Wales team are confident of progress at the World Cup
  • Wales are in Group B along with England, the United States and Iran 
  • Page stated that he knows what to expect from opening opponents the USA 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

The USA lit up the Empire State Building in red, white and blue. Wales staged a Q and A evening at the last remaining miners’ institute in a rain-swept Rhondda valley.

The choreography of the squad announcements last week said everything about the comparative wealth of two nations who open their World Cup campaigns against each other, a week on Monday.

But Wales manager Rob Page, who has insisted his squad go into the World Cup ‘with huge confidence’ about making it out of Group B, is drawing immense strength from his side’s sense of nationhood and history. 

Wales manager Rob Page says his team have huge confidence of getting out of Group B

‘This campaign is about history, community and Wales,’ Page said in the red-brick Georgian institute at Tylorstown, where he was brought up. ‘Tylorstown is probably a world away from lighting up the Empire States building. But for us in Wales, there’s always that longing for home.’

He was speaking after visiting the home of the late Jimmy Murphy, manager of the last Wales side to make the finals, who lived over the hill in the village of Pentre, three miles away. Murphy’s side reached the quarter-finals where they lost 1-0 to Brazil in Sweden’s 1958 tournament. Page would certainly take that.

‘Managers are greedy,’ he said. ‘We are grateful that we have got to this stage. But you look at the group and you start to look at the teams individually. There is no disrespect to the other teams, but we have to go into the group with huge confidence that we can get out of the group, and we do.’

Page says that he knows what to expect from the USA ahead of their World Cup clash

Page described attending the USA’s last warm-up game against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, northern Spain, in late September – a goalless draw in which they were poor – and he clearly did not leave disheartened.

‘I saw how they set up,’ he said. ‘It was predominantly the European-based players – they were missing a few – but we’ve already got an idea of what we’ve got to do. I think on our day, if we can replicate anywhere near the level we showed against the Netherlands and Belgium (in the summer), we will have a good tournament.

Wales narrowly lost twice to the Netherlands but drew at home to Belgium. ‘That showed we can more than compete with these big nations,’ Page said.

Wales are joint favourites with the USA to progress behind England and the poverty of the American performance in a 2-1 defeat to Japan in Dusseldorf in September will not have been lost on Page. His side play Gareth Southgate’s team last, two weeks on Tuesday, and do not want to go into that game with a huge amount riding on it.

Wales, led by Gareth Bale, are joint favourites with the USA to progress behind England

Page said it would be ‘nice’ if Wales and England had maximum points before facing each other

‘It will be nice if we both have maximum points going into that final game, but I can’t worry about that now,’ Page said. ‘I just have to focus on getting maximum points from those first two games. Hopefully we will get maximum points in a perfect world and be challenging for the top spot in the group.’

He clearly felt the significance of announcing the team in a miner’s institute. ‘This was my snooker hall when I was 14/15 years old. I haven’t been back here in a few years, so to come back and share this moment with the family is really special.’

Before a packed main hall, he said he felt the principles of the former mining community ran through his team. ‘The principles are the same. The character of the people is still the same,’ he said. ‘There’s no edge in the team.’

He was asked if he would be packing for a month when his team fly to Doha on Tuesday. ‘Absolutely.’ he replied.

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