Moore Keeps Wales Euro Hopes Afloat In Slovakia Draw

Slovak players celebrate scoring during the UEFA Euro 2020 Group E qualification football match Slovakia v Wales in Trnava, Slovakia on October 10, 2019. VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP

 

Former lifeguard Kieffer Moore scored on his international debut as Wales drew 1-1 with Slovakia on Thursday as Ryan Giggs’ side stayed afloat in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Moore headed home in the 25th minute in Trnava before Slovakia deservedly levelled early in the second period through Juraj Kucka.

The result left Wales with seven points in Group E, six behind leaders Croatia and three back from Slovakia but they do have the luxury of a game in hand and a better head-to-head record over the Slovaks.

Moore, a towering 6ft 5in (1.96m) centre-forward who plays his club football with Wigan in the English secod tier, opened the scoring in the 25th minute.

The 27-year-old rose unmarked just outside the six-yard box to head in from a pinpoint cross from Manchester United’s Daniel James out on the left.

James had been picked out by a raking crossfield pass from Gareth Bale.

Just moments earlier, Bale, who came into the game with fresh doubts over his future at Real Madrid, had headed against the crossbar.

Bale has a liking for Slovakia. His first international goal goal came at home to the same opponents in 2006.

He had also been on target against them during a 2-1 win at Euro 2016.

For Moore, it was an international debut to remember. Just six years ago, he was playing non-league football and working as a lifeguard to make ends meet.

Wales thought they should have had a penalty as the opening period closed but defender Norbert Gyomber’s clumsy sliding challenge on Jonny Williams was deemed legitimate by the referee.

Slovakia had some of the best opportunities in the early exchanges.

Robert Mak cleverly created space in the penalty area but teenage defender Ethan Ampadu blocked the drive.

Mak again had a sight of goal as half-time approached before full-back Connor Roberts came to the rescue.

The home side did eventually pull level eight minutes into the second half.

Wales only half-cleared a cross and with time to set himself midfielder Kucka unleashed a fierce left-foot volley from 20 yards which left goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey floundering.

Slovakia continued to pile on the pressure with Mak again denied by a block before Hennessey needed to dive at full stretch to push away a drive from the impressive Parma star Kucka.

As time ticked away, Gyomber was red-carded for a lunge on Moore before Bale, already on a yellow card, ended the game shaking off a knock picked up in a crude, late challenge on Milan Skriniar.

AFP

Bale’s Wales Fall To Surprise Defeat By Albania

Bale's Wales Fall To Surprise Defeat By Albania
Albania’s defender Ardian Ismajli (L) and Migjen Basha (R) vie for the ball with Wales’ midfielder Harry Wilson (C) during the friendly football match between Albania and Wales at the Elbasan Arena Stadium in Elbasan on November 20, 2018. Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP

 

Wales lost 1-0 to Albania in a friendly in Elbasan on Tuesday as Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale was restricted to a second-half cameo as a substitute.

The only goal of the game came as Bekim Balaj converted from the penalty spot after 58 minutes as Derby winger Harry Wilson brought down Taulant Xhaka — brother of Arsenal and Switzerland midfielder Granit — in the box.

Bale came onto the field as did Arsenal playmaker Aaron Ramsey shortly after as coach Ryan Giggs attempted to avoid a surprising defeat to the team ranked 60th in the world but it was to no avail.

In a frustrating evening for the visitors, Bale was shown a yellow card after 83 minutes for a needless tackle on Xhaka.

The best chance for Giggs’s outfit fell to Burnley forward Sam Vokes whose weak effort from five yards out was parried away easily by Albanian goalkeeper Etrit Berisha during stoppage time in the first half.

Defender Chris Gunter captained Wales to became his country’s most-capped male footballer of all time, surpassing former Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall on 93 appearances.

The result was Wales’ second straight loss after being beaten 2-1 to Denmark in the Nations League on Friday.

“It will hurt for a while because we don’t like to lose back-to-back games so it’s disappointing and we’ll take a few days to get over it,” Gunter told television channel S4C.

“I said before the game it wasn’t about myself, it was about the team coming here and putting on a good performance and a good result to end the year which is disappointing,” he added.

AFP

Bale Boosts Wales Nations League Promotion Hopes

 

Real Madrid star Gareth Bale is back in the Wales squad for a crucial Nations League group clash with Denmark after missing last month’s international matches.

The 29-year-old winger — who was unavailable for the friendly against Spain and the Nations League win over Ireland because of muscle fatigue — is fit after playing in the last four of Real’s matches.

Bale features among the 26-man squad selected by Ryan Giggs for the home match with the Danes on November 16 with the hosts sitting atop the group on four points, two ahead of their opponents.

Victory would see the Welsh promoted from League B to League A.

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Chelsea youngster Ethan Ampadu are also back after missing the Ireland game last month.

Defender James Lawrence, who plays for Belgian giants Anderlecht, has been called up for the first time.

The 26-year-old joined the Belgian outfit from Slovakian team AS Trenčín, where he played 117 matches.

Former clubs as a youth player include Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Ajax and Sparta Rotterdam.

Wales will also play a friendly with Albania on November 20 in Elbasan.

AFP

Coleman Uncertain To Remain Wales Boss

Wales Players Urge Coleman To Stay On
File: Wales’ manager Chris Coleman follows the game from the touchline during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Georgia and Wales in Tbilisi on October 6, 2017.
Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

Wales manager Chris Coleman said on Wednesday he has “no idea” if he will stay in the job after holding initial talks with football chiefs.

Coleman’s current contract expires at the end of this month after friendlies away against France on November 10 and Panama in Cardiff on November 14.

The 47-year-old’s position has been under scrutiny since last month’s defeat to Ireland cost them a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer.

“I have no idea if these are my last games,” Coleman told a press conference near Cardiff. “Initial talks have been undertaken since our last game but we are no further forward. That’s where we are.”

Coleman was appointed Wales manager in January 2012 following the death of his great friend Gary Speed.

He struggled at the start of his reign but the former Fulham manager took Wales to their first major finals for 58 years at Euro 2016 and steered them to the semi-finals in France.

A players’ delegation — including star man Gareth Bale and skipper Ashley Williams — met Coleman straight after the defeat to Ireland in attempt to persuade him to stay.

“France in Paris is a fantastic game for us and if this is my last camp it’s not a bad way to sign off,” Coleman said.

“It may be the (Euro 2016) final that never took place and of course we’ve never played Panama.

“I have to look and think, ‘Can I take it forward? Is the structure and facilities good to take us forward?’ So it’s not just me personally. All things need to be right for us to take it forward.”

Coleman has been linked with Premier League vacancies at Everton and Leicester — the latter since filled by Claude Puel — in recent weeks.

But he was reticent when asked if there had been any interest in his services.

“I’m not going to say a club has done this or that,” he said. “We’re always going to be linked with clubs and vacancies. Some managers are still in their jobs, I’ve been on the end of that and it’s not nice.”

Coleman named a 24-man squad for the upcoming friendlies that includes Gareth Bale.

Bale has not played since suffering a calf injury in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory against Borussia Dortmund on September 26 and missed Wales’s final World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Ireland.

AFP

Wales Players Urge Coleman To Stay On

Wales Players Urge Coleman To Stay On
Wales’ manager Chris Coleman follows the game from the touchline during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification football match between Georgia and Wales in Tbilisi on October 6, 2017.
Alexander NEMENOV / AFP

Senior Wales players have urged manager Chris Coleman to stay on despite the heartbreak of failing to qualify for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia, a report said Tuesday.

Britain’s Press Association said Coleman met with key players — including the injured Gareth Bale — at the team hotel following their 1-0 defeat to the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on Monday.

The squad have reportedly given their unanimous support to Coleman and it is also understood that the Football Association of Wales is hoping Coleman extends his near six-year stay at the helm.

Coleman said in the immediate aftermath of the Ireland defeat that he would hold talks with the FAW over his future.

The manager said after Wales had reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 that the 2018 World Cup campaign would be his last in charge but his stance appears to have softened.

Defender Chris Gunter called for Coleman to stay.

“I think everyone in Wales, fans and players, would want to see him stay on — 100 percent,” he said. “He’s been a massive part of what we’ve done and he is the man to hopefully take us forward.

“If the powers that be can give him a really good contract and make him stay, he can carry on being the greatest Welsh manager of all time.”

Coleman became Wales boss in January 2012 following the death of his close friend Gary Speed.

The former Fulham and Real Sociedad boss led Wales to Euro 2016 — their first major tournament in 58 years — and then made it all the way to the semi-finals in France.

“We want him to stay because what he’s given this nation is something that’s never been done before,” said Gunter.

“The message from the whole squad would be that we want him to sign a new contract.”

AFP

Injured Bale Out Of Wales World Cup Qualifiers

Real Madrid’s forward from Wales Gareth Bale. Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales’s final two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Ireland, the Football Association of Wales said on Tuesday.

Bale’s fitness has been a source of concern for the national side since he suffered a calf muscle strain against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last week.

“The Football Association of Wales can confirm that Gareth Bale will miss the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Republic of Ireland,” said an FAW statement.

“Bale — who missed Real Madrid’s game against Espanyol on Sunday — arrived with the rest of the Wales squad on Sunday and attended Monday’s annual FAW Awards dinner at the team headquarters in Cardiff.

“But following dialogue with Real Madrid, Bale was sent for a scan and results confirmed that he wouldn’t be fit to feature.”

Wales are currently second in Group D, four points behind leaders Serbia and one point above Ireland.

Two wins in the matches on Friday, away to Georgia, and next Monday, at home to Ireland, are likely to guarantee them at least a place in next month’s play-offs for a place in Russia.

Bale’s absence could open the door for Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn to make his first Wales start.

The 17-year-old made a dramatic introduction last month when he scored the winner within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute against Austria.

AFP

Poppies Display: Fifa Fines England, Scotland, Wales And Northern

Poppies Display: Fifa Fines England, Scotland, Wales And NorthernFifa has fined England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for displaying poppies during World Cup qualifiers around Armistice Day.

Though the football body’s disciplinary committee chairman, Claudio Sulser, said he “fully respected” the commemorations, he noted that the rules “need to be applied to all member associations”.

Sulser added that “the display, among others, of any political or religious symbol is strictly prohibited. In the stadium and on the pitch, there is only room for sport, nothing else”.

England and Scotland players had worn armbands featuring poppies when they met at Wembley on 11 November.

Wales and Northern Ireland also featured displays on the pitch or in the stands to mark the event in their respective games.

England’s Football Association would appeal against the fine of 45,000 Swiss francs (£35,311), with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland yet to decide.

Scotland and Wales were both fined 20,000 Sfr (£15,694) while Northern Ireland got a penalty of 15,000 Sfr (£11,770).

Nigeria Up By Three Spots In Latest FIFA Ranking

Nigeria's Super Eagles On FIFA RankingNigeria’s Super Eagles have climbed up three places in the monthly ranking of football playing nations around the world by FIFA.

With the rise, the Eagles are now the 14th best team in Africa and now occupy the 64th position in the world.

Cote d’Ivoire are the highest ranked team on the continent followed by Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Ghana, DR Congo, Egypt, Congo, Mali and Morocco to complete Africa’s top 10.

Argentina also retain top spot in the world rankings while Belgium held on to the second spot.

World champions Germany are in third position as Colombia and Brazil share the fourth spot.

Chile, Portugal, France, Uruguay and Wales were also included on the list of the world’s best 10.

Portugal Defeat France To Win Euro 2016 Championship

Portugal, Euro 2016Portugal are champions of Europe after defeating hosts France 1-0 in extra-time in the Euro 2016 final played at the Stade de France on Sunday night.

Substitute Eder was the hero, scoring Portugal’s lone goal in the 109th minute.

Portugal had to play most of the match without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo as the captain’s second EURO final ended after just 25 minutes after Dimitri Payet had clattered into his standing leg in a tackle after only eight minutes.

Despite receiving treatment, the Real Madrid star was unable to fully recover as he signalled to the bench and was tearfully stretchered and replaced by Ricardo Quaresma in the 25th minute.

Although a big blow for Portugal, the team overcame the shaky reaction to their captain’s exit and started to provide some serious challenge to France’s early domination.

The first half ended 0-0 and in the second half, France coach, Didier Deschamps withdrew Dimitri Payet for Kingsley Conman to enable them break down Portugal’s defensive.

Portugal, however, remained resolute in defense and offering next to nothing in attack.

The game went into extra-time and in the 109th minute, substitute Eder brought the Portugal bench and fans into ecstasy with a fierce low shot that beat Lloris from 25 yards.

Deschamps threw in Antonio Martial immediately to try and salvage the game but it was not to be as Portugal finally won their first ever Euro championships.

Final Pressure

Deschamps’ side had completed their run to the final at the Stade de France with a 2-0 win over Germany.

With enthusiasm around the nation reaching fever pitch in anticipation of France’s first Euro triumph in 16 years, Deschamps remained confident his players can deal with the pressure.

The 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning captain said that they had learnt from some nervy earlier performances in the group stage and that they would not be overawed by the occasion.

Euro 2016: Ronaldo Hopes To Fulfill Country’s Dream

Euro 2016, RonaldoPortugal Captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, hopes to fulfil the dream of winning a competition for his country after securing qualification to the finals of the Euro 2016 on Wednesday.

“The team did a marvelous job to reach the final, it’s what we have dreamt of since the beginning.

“We knew it would be a long road and we’re still in the tournament. I hope on Sunday you’ll see me crying with joy.

“I always said I wanted to win something with Portugal. We’re closer to doing it and I believe that we’ll win.

“I’ve been at the highest level for 13 years. The statistics never lie”, Ronaldo told Skysports.

Portugal last reached the final of a major tournament in Euro 2004 and Ronaldo was left crying on the pitch as his side lost 1-0 to Greece on home soil.

Ronaldo stated that “This is different…that was my first final, my debut, now 12 years have gone by and we are going to play another final.

“I have always dreamed of winning for Portugal. I hope it is our time now.

“I am very confident. I deserve it, Portugal deserves it, all the Portuguese people deserve it.

“I’ve always dreamt of winning something for Portugal and now it’s just one step away. Dreaming is free so let’s keep dreaming.”

The Portuguese all-time highest goal scorer, scored a brilliant header also assisting Lius Nani for the second goal, when they beat Wales 2-0 on Wednesday.

Either Germany or France would join Portugal in the final when they faceoff at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Thursday.

Portugal’s Coach Santos Plays Down Ronaldo vs. Bale Duel

Euro 2016Portugal Coach, Fernando Santos, says there is more to his team’s Euro 2016 semi-final match against Wales than the much hyped Cristiano Ronaldo v Gareth Bale duel.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday evening, ahead of the match, he said, “They’re players who have experience, and are used to such pressure. There’s no added pressure. It’s not just Cristiano v Bale, it’s all the players from both sides.”

He admitted, “Cristiano has led by example here. The way he is on the training ground, with his team-mates, he’s been impeccable,” but the coach is more concerned about having not one, but all his players fit on Wednesday.

One of such players expected to produce a top notch performance against the now feared Welsh side is Pepe, who is not yet certified fit to play.

“We need the players who play in such a tough game to be 100 per cent fit. We want to make our own history. There’s the past, which is important for everyone, but we want to write our own story.

“We have been trying to do so from the off and tomorrow is another step against a very strong opponent.

“We know how hard it will be, but we’ll go into it with the same humility and attitude as ever.”

He added, in a cryptic mood, “My grandmother used to say the most important thing is to wake up in the morning because it means we’re alive.”

Difficult Battle

Meanwhile, Portugal defender, José Fonte, admits that Wales would be difficult to play against having grown in confidence in the championship.

“Wales never give up. The mentality, togetherness that they’re showing and the system they’re playing suits them well.

“They know the system well, they have their strengths and are a team with a lot of qualities and they are where they are because they deserve it and we expect a tough game.

“We’ve managed to get to the semis. We’re one step from the final and we have a very important, difficult battle tomorrow.

“We want to get there and we want to give something back to the country and all the Portuguese emigrants who have supported us while we are here,” he said.

Coach Santos also acknowledged the fans, “The support has been fantastic. Whenever we go back to Marcoussis, arrive at a stadium, they’re there in numbers. Their devotion is amazing.”

Euro 2016: Teams Prepare For Semi-Final Clashes

Euro 2016Portugal have moved their training camp to Lyon venue of their semi-final clash with Wales.

Led by team captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, the players went through their training with Coach Fernando Santos and his technical team.

The semi-final pits Ronaldo against his Real Madrid team mate, Gareth Bale who has been instrumental for Wales.

The world’s two most expensive players take different approaches to their leadership role. While Bale is widely acclaimed as an inspiration for his national team, Ronaldo’s influence on Portugal has been subject of debate.

Wales’s talisman, Gareth Bale says he is just part of the team which is the star and not him.

He insists there is enough talent in the team for them not to be considered a one-man side.

Germany, Italy, Euro 2016Meanwhile, Germany team continue preparation for their semi-final against France without midfielder Sami Khedira who will miss the remainder of the tournament.

The Juventus midfielder sustained an adductor muscle injury in the quarter-final victory over Italy.

Khedira, who had played in all of Germany’s matches at the tournament, was withdrawn early in Saturday’s game after over-stretching during a challenge for the ball.