By David Williams
Brennan Johnson said farewell to Neco Williams with a last supper in London, but now the Wales pair aim to feast on Latvia on Monday night.
Striker Johnson decided to meet up with some of his Wales pals last week to celebrate his £47.5m deadline day move from Nottingham Forest to Tottenham.
That meant an emotional goodbye to his Forest teammate Williams, as the pair became close mates at the City Ground following Williams’ £17m switch from Liverpool.
“We went to London with a few of the Welsh lads and all went for food and it was a good little meet-up as well as a chance to say congratulations to Brennan on his move,” said Williams.
“We celebrated with a little drink and some nice food.
“I am sure he’s excited. Hopefully, he can now kick on with Spurs. You can see that his confidence has gone to the next level.”
— Football Mad! ⚽️ (@FootballMadUK) September 9, 2023
Williams and Wales need Johnson to deliver some of that talent Spurs have invested in when he takes the field in Riga.
Some comfort has been gained from Thursday’s goalless draw in a friendly at home to South Korea, but conceding six goals in two disastrous Euro qualifier defeats to Armenia and Turkey has left Wales at the point of no return in Riga.
Anything less than a win will more or less signal the end of their hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2024 finals.
In the post Gareth Bale era, Wales now look to Johnson to spark the Dragonhood into life and Williams insists the striker can deliver.
“I’ve known him for quite a long time now as my first camp with Wales was I with the Under-16s.
“Brennan is improving each year and I feel that when a player stops improving and stops wanting to learn and work hard then that’s when it becomes a problem.
“Since I’ve known Brennan from 16 he’s always been able to step up and hopefully he can keep progressing up those ladders and reach the highest levels.”
The second fastest player in the Premier League ⚡️
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 10, 2023
Even when they reached last year’s World Cup finals, Wales were a team who defended well, absorbed pressure, and then relied on moments of genius from Bale or the creativity of Aaron Ramsey.
Williams admits it will be much the same with Johnson as their focal point, even against the Latvians.
“We used to always be solid at the back and then with our pace and attacking players we used to catch teams on the counter.
“I can’t really say why that didn’t happen in the last two games. But we just have to draw a line under that now.
“We can’t change anything. All we can do is put in a better performance and hopefully we can do that and get the three points.”
“We've got to go into this game with a winning mentality"
“We know our last camp was no way good enough"
🎙️ Ethan Ampadu | Neco Williams
— Sgorio ⚽️ (@sgorio) September 5, 2023
Johnson and Williams both started on Thursday as Wales drew 0-0 with South Korea in a Cardiff friendly.
But the Latvia game represents the important part of the September double-header as Wales attempt to revive their Euro 2024 qualification bid.
Defeats to Armenia and Turkey in June have left Wales playing catch-up in Group D and there is no margin for error in Riga.
Latvia v Wales coverage…
– Brennan Johnson treats Welsh pals to dinner in London after sealing £47.5m Spurs transfer
– EXC: Joe Ledley on Wales’ Euro 2024 hopes + Aaron Ramsey’s Cardiff return
– Robert Page on discipline meeting after five red cards in just over two years
— Phil Cadden (@pjcadden) September 9, 2023
Williams said: “When we look back on it, the goals we conceded, we know we can do so much better than that.
“As a team, that just wasn’t us. You can pinpoint so many things.
“The gaps were too big from the strikers to the defenders, it just wasn’t a good performance all-round.
“We’ve got top teams in our group and knew it wasn’t going to be easy from the start.
“But we’ve got plenty of games to put that right and get as many points as possible to qualify.”
🎟️ Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, tickets for Latvia v @Cymru will now only be available for collection on match day.
— FA WALES (@FAWales) September 9, 2023