Wales and Ireland face World Cup shootout

News Hour

Wales manager Chris Coleman says his side will embrace the pressure of Monday’s knife-edge World Cup qualification shootout against the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff.

Victory for either team will guarantee them a play-off berth at their opponents’ expense and could yield an automatic qualifying spot if Group D leaders Serbia falter in their last game at home to Georgia.

For Wales, a draw at Cardiff City Stadium would be enough to finish above Ireland in the table, but Coleman says his players will only be thinking of victory.

“We’re on dangerous ground if we go in with a game plan of trying to soak the pressure up for 90 minutes,” said Coleman, who will be without his attacking talisman Gareth Bale due to injury.

“We are too good to do that. We’ll go and attack, go and score goals. We have to do that — it’s our strength.

“A point may be OK, but we’ll go for three points. That’s the way it’s set up.

“I think it will be a sensational atmosphere in Cardiff and these are the games you want to be involved in.

“We always seem to play other countries who are involved and celebrating, but we welcome the pressure.”

Celtic cousins separated by the Irish Sea, Wales and Ireland are more accustomed to facing off on the rugby pitch and have never previously tackled each other in a football match of such magnitude.

Surprise semi-finalists at Euro 2016, Wales have not played at a World Cup since 1958 and could finish a qualifying campaign unbeaten for the first time in their history.

A damaging run of five successive draws appeared to have nixed their qualification hopes, but consecutive wins — and clean sheets — against Austria, Moldova and Georgia have got them back on track.

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