World Cup 2022: All you need to know about Wales
Wales return to the World Cup for the first time in 64 years this month but have no intention of simply making up the numbers.
Rob Page’s Dragons overcame two tricky play-off ties to seal their spot in Qatar, showing their squad has buckets of grit and quality to complement the brilliance of talisman Gareth Bale.
Drawn in an intriguing group alongside noisy neighbours England, Iran and the USA, the stage looks perfectly set for Wales to write another special chapter into their footballing history.
Wales’ group stage fixtures and UK kick-off times
USA vs Wales (Monday, November 21, 7pm)
Wales vs Iran (Friday, November 25, 10am)
Wales vs England (Tuesday, November 29, 7pm)
How Wales qualified for Qatar 2022
After losing their opening qualifier 3-1 against Belgium in March 2021, a seven-game unbeaten run propelled Wales into second spot in their qualifying group and secured a play-off berth.
A raucous 32,000-strong crowd roared the Dragons to a 2-1 semi-final triumph over Austria, before a 1-0 victory over a brave Ukraine sealed the deal — though there were almost three months between those clashes due to the latter’s ongoing conflict with Russia.
Bale was the predictable hero on both occasions, netting all three of his nation’s goals across the two crucial clashes.
How Wales could line up
Page has shown a liking for a 3-4-3 system during his time in charge, with veteran stopper Wayne Hennessey certain to start between the posts.
In the three centre-back positions, Joe Rodon and Ben Davies look assured of a start — probably alongside Chris Mepham — with Connor Roberts and Neco Williams operating as marauding wing-backs.
Ethan Ampadu and Aaron Ramsey will look to dictate in the middle of the park, while the majestic Bale and speedster Daniel James flank Wales’ battering ram of a centre forward, Kieffer Moore.
Predicted XI: Hennessey; Rodon, Davies, Mepham; Roberts, Ampadu, Ramsey, Williams; Bale, James, Moore
Star man: Gareth Bale
If this is to be the final chapter in the sensational career of Los Angeles FC forward Bale, the 33-year-old will desperately want to conjure up one final Hollywood-style script for his beloved nation.
With five Champions League crowns to his name, it is only right that one of Britain’s finest ever footballers will make his World Cup bow in Qatar, though there are legitimate concerns over his fitness.
Three games in eight days looks a big ask for someone who has completed 90 minutes just once in over a year, though if anyone can defy logic in this Dragons squad, it is unquestionably their sublime skipper.
One to watch: Kieffer Moore
Few could have foreseen the meteoric rise of Moore, who started his career scrambling around the South West of England’s lesser lights — stints at the likes of Truro, Yeovil and Torquay hardly hinting at what was to come.
Yet the 30-year-old slowly but surely established himself as one of the most effective line-leaders outside the Premier League and this term has leapt into top-flight life seamlessly with Bournemouth.
While Moore’s physical approach will not win any awards for aesthetics, his aerial prowess and selfless link-up play makes him the perfect foil for Bale, James and Wales’ flying full-backs.
The boss: Rob Page
Like many of his playing squad, Page’s route to Qatar 2022 has been anything but stereotypical, having earned his managerial stripes with Port Vale and Northampton.
Replacing Ryan Giggs in a temporary role in November 2020, the 48-year-old’s measured approach expertly steered Wales through the group stage of last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 finals.
Qualifying his nation for a first World Cup in over six decades prompted a four-year contract to be tabled this September, allowing Page to turn his attention towards a long-term legacy.
Wales' official 26-man World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Sheffield United)
Defenders: Ben Cabango (Swansea), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Chris Gunter (AFC Wimbledon), Tom Lockyer (Luton), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Connor Roberts (Burnley), Joe Rodon (Rennes), Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest)
Midfielders: Ethan Ampadu (Spezia), Joe Allen (Swansea), Rubin Colwill (Cardiff), Dylan Levitt (Dundee United), Joe Morrell (Portsmouth), Aaron Ramsey (Nice), Matthew Smith (MK Dons), Sorba Thomas (Huddersfield), Jonny Williams (Swindon), Harry Wilson (Fulham)
Forwards: Gareth Bale (Los Angeles FC), Mark Harris (Cardiff), Daniel James (Fulham), Kieffer Moore (Bournemouth), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
All information correct as of November 15, 2022