Bale right where he wants to be ahead of Wales' historic World Cup return

By Sports Desk November 20, 2022 586

Wales captain Gareth Bale is right where he wants to be ahead of leading his country into their second ever World Cup campaign.

Rob Page's team face the United States on Monday in what is Wales' first World Cup match since a quarter-final loss to Brazil in 1958.

Brazil great Pele scored his first goal for the Selecao in that match, becoming the competition's youngest goalscorer (17 years and 239 days) – a record that stands heading into the 2022 edition of the tournament.

Bale comes into the World Cup on the back of coming off the bench to net Los Angeles FC's extra-time equaliser in the MLS Cup, which finished 3-3 against the Philadelphia Union, with LAFC winning on penalties.

After that match in October, the former Real Madrid forward revealed he was still not at 100 per cent fitness, though at a press conference in Doha on Sunday, Bale put any concerns over his condition to bed.

"I'm right where I want to be, I'm here," he said. "It's the night before the first game and I'm ready to go.

"We've all been training hard the last week, adapting to the heat, the time zones and we have no excuses now – we've put all the hard work in and now it's game time.

"Hopefully we can step up and deliver what needs to be delivered."

Bale is Wales' record goalscorer in major international tournaments, having played a big part in his side's run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and the last 16 of Euro 2020, when he captained the team.

"It's an incredible feeling, one as a kid you dream of, but to actually be in the team that achieves it is an honour to do it for our country," Bale said of playing at a World Cup.

"It's going to be a fun time for us, one we want to enjoy and have fun like we always do as a national team.

"We're in our own little bubble here, but we get sent links and videos in our WhatsApp group of what's going on back home.

"We can see the tensions building. They're wearing their bucket hats more and the shirts are out. We can feel the love and we're going to try to do them proud. We're doing it for our country.

"Every World Cup [I've seen], there's never been a Wales flag. For the youngsters now, to have Wales in the World Cup will be an incredible experience to have."

Bale's sentiment was echoed by manage Page, who said: "I've spent the last week with them. They're ready, absolutely ready, I won't need to fire them up.

"We've got a gameplan, we've done a lot of analysis. They've waited a long time for it. It's been a difficult process to get here, with the emotions we had to manage in the Ukraine [play-off] game.

"I thought the lads showed true class on that day as well, showed they can manage emotions – it'll be no different."

Page also confirmed influential midfielder Joe Allen, a major fitness doubt ahead of the tournament, will play no part against the USA after failing to fully recover from a hamstring injury.

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Last modified on Sunday, 20 November 2022 10:58
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