Coleman glad to face Israel with Wales so close

Date published: Sunday 6th September 2015 10:09

Gareth Bale: Celebrates his goal against Cyprus

Gareth Bale: Celebrates his goal against Cyprus

Chris Coleman is happy to be facing one of the stronger teams in Euro 2016 Qualifying as Wales prepare to enter uncharted territory.

Victory over Israel in Cardiff on Sunday evening will stamp Wales’ ticket to next summer’s Euro 2016 finals and end a 58-year wait for the nation to play at a major championship.

But Coleman insists his players will not deviate from the formula which has produced Wales’ best-ever unbeaten run in competitive football and taken them to the Group B summit with 17 points from seven games.

“We all know what the possibilities are and what it’s going to be like,” Coleman said at his pre-match press conference.

“There’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere but we mustn’t get caught up in it because if you do that you stop thinking about what got you there in the first place.

“We’ll stick to the game plan and I’m not bothered about the performance being remembered for loads of goals and lots of excitement.

“If that’s the case and we came out on top, great, but we’ll stick to what we’ve been working on and stay calm and focused.”

Wales put themselves within touching distance of qualification on Thursday night by beating Cyprus 1-0 in Nicosia, Gareth Bale’s late header securing another precious three points.

It was a tense occasion in the Mediterranean and Coleman is expecting more of the same against visitors who, coincidentally, provided the opposition when Wales qualified for the 1958 World Cup courtesy of a two-legged play-off.

“My message to the fans is ‘just stay with us’,” Coleman said. “In Cyprus it was 0-0 with about 10 minutes to go and maybe certain people were thinking: ‘Maybe they should be one or two goals up by now’.

“But it doesn’t work like that and Israel are a good team with a lot to play for.

“If we were playing Andorra it would be a game we would be expected to win and then our job’s probably done and dusted.

“But I’m glad it’s Israel and we’re up against a strong team who are playing for something themselves.

“This game is going to be another battle for us, so we mustn’t get carried away by where we are in the rankings or where we are in the table.

“We’re in new territory dealing with a new situation, which we’ve earned, but it’s going to be tight and we’ve got to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

Bale’s winner in Cyprus was his sixth goal in Euro 2016 qualifying, the Real Madrid star providing two-thirds of Wales’ tally.

But Coleman believes there is more to come from his 26-year-old talisman against Israel and in the October double-header with Bosnia Herzegovina and Andorra.

“I was pleased for Gareth on Thursday because it wasn’t a night when we were at our best offensively,” Coleman said.

“But Gareth got his reward and he’s got more goals in him in this campaign.”

Joe Ledley has again been ruled out by hamstring trouble which forced him to sit out the Cyprus game, and David Vaughan has been drafted into the squad.

Vaughan could start as the holding midfielder while central defender James Chester will be assessed after training on Saturday following a recent hamstring problem.

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