Coleman: ‘Underdogs’ Wales have nothing to fear against England

Date published: Saturday 11th June 2016 9:24

Chris Coleman: Full of confidence after Wales' win

Chris Coleman: Full of confidence after Wales' win

Chris Coleman says Wales have nothing to fear after getting their Euro 2016 campaign off to a winning start against Slovakia.

Wales had waited 58 years to play at a major tournament, and it was a memorable return as goals from Gareth Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu gave them a 2-1 win in Bordeaux.

Bale struck his 20th international goal with a trademark free-kick after 10 minutes, but Wales had to dig deep after Ondrej Duda’s 61st-minute equaliser.

But substitute Robson-Kanu fired home the winner 10 minutes from time to hand Wales the perfect boost before Thursday’s Group B clash with England in Lens.

“We’ll enjoy these moments in this competition if we do what we did today,” said Wales manager Coleman.

“It’s not coming here and enjoying it, and going home making excuses about it being our first tournament.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of, even if sometimes you are afraid of the unknown.

“We just have to go about our business and, if we do that, there’s every chance that we will get what we need.

“We know we’re up against it in the next game.

“We are the underdogs, England are a top 10 team, and they are used to high pressure situations.

“But that could work to our advantage, and if we are ourselves it can be enough to get what we want.”

Wales had arrived in France without a win in four friendly games since qualification was achieved last October.

Gareth Bale celebrates Wales v Slovakia 1

But Coleman had promised before kick-off that Wales would rise to the challenge, and he felt his players did just that as they battled for the cause.

“Everyone will look at Gareth’s goal, but some of his best moments were at the end of the game at 2-1,” said Coleman.

“He used his intelligence. He was basically heading the ball out of play to waste time. It wasn’t pretty but he gave everything for the win for Wales.

“He knew it wasn’t about Gareth Bale, it is about Wales.

“You can see his passion and how much he feeds off our supporters – and that’s why three million people love him to pieces.

“We got the three points which is fantastic, but more importantly was the performance.

“When our supporters are like that – when you see that sea of red and hear them singing like that – it’s so important we give our very best, because after that there’s no complaints.”

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Wales suffered a blow before kick-off when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had to drop out with a back spasm.

Hennessey’s late withdrawal allowed Liverpool’s Danny Ward to win only his third cap and make his first start.

“It was such a blow for Wayne and he’s a big reason why we’re sitting here,” said Coleman.

“He’s devastated to miss the first game, but we were not in a position where we could take a chance with him.

“He’s had it before and he has recovered quite quickly, so we’re hoping over the next 24 to 48 hours we will monitor it and see.

“Hopefully he can play some part on Thursday, but Danny stepped up and, to come in to that atmosphere and perform like that, I thought he was outstanding.”

Ben Davies Wales v Slovakia

Slovakia coach Jan Kozak said Wales had put themselves in a strong position to make the knock-out stages.

“The result for them is great, to get three points in the opening game is a great boost for confidence,” said Kozak.

“They now have a derby and that is a great motivation for them.

“It’s difficult to anticipate the result, they have two matches to get the results they need, and they have a very good chance to qualify now.

“Wales have a well-organised defence and up front they have a very dangerous man (Bale) who can make a difference.”

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