Chris Coleman wants Wales to draw on Euro 2016 success
Manager could name side that shocked Belgium in quarter-finals last summer
Gareth Bale during a Wales training session at the Vale Resort, Glamorgan. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire
Chris Coleman is confident Wales will draw on their Euro 2016 success to silence a passionate Dublin crowd on Friday night.
Third-placed Wales have World Cup ground to make up with Martin O’Neill’s Group D leaders four points ahead of them before their Aviva Stadium showdown.
But Coleman could name the side which shocked Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 for the first time since that memorable night in Lille.
“People look at us now in these first four games and we’ve won one and drawn three,” said Coleman.
“But we’ve lost one campaign game in 16. That’s the truth of the matter.
“Whatever happens against the Republic these players are at a great age, and their attitude and application is the best I’ve ever seen.
“They will go on and on and achieve long after I’ve gone. They’re at a great age and very much together.
“Whatever pressure people put on them for this game is up to them, but I won’t be doing that because I trust them.
“Why do I trust them? Because of what they’re done, I’m not worried what we’re up against.”
Coleman insists Wales will be a major influence in the group even if they do not win in Dublin.
Wales are two points behind second-placed Serbia, who they will play in Belgrade in June.
“You get written off today, built up tomorrow – but we’re right in it,” Coleman said.
“The Republic of Ireland know it, make no mistake about that.
“People say it’s a must-win game for us, but I won’t be saying that.
“We’re not going into this game thinking it doesn’t matter, of course it matters.
“But there are 18 points to play for and a long way to go.
“This is the fifth game in 10 and some of those games we’ve had good form.
“We’ve lost focus at times, but this time round it’s different.
“We can hardly go under the radar now. We’re seen as a scalp now and we have to deal with that.”
The last time Wales found themselves in a similar situation, playing catch-up away to group leaders, was in Israel exactly two years ago.
Bale scored twice as Wales won 3-0 and Coleman’s side never looked back, first qualifying for France and then making the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
“I think we learned a lot from that experience,” skipper Ashley Williams said.
“When we went to Israel they were favourites and we performed excellently.
“Ireland are top of the group and have had a better campaign than us so far.
“But we feel if play out best game, as we have on many occasions, then we can get a result.”