Gareth Bale . Pic: Getty Images.

Gareth Bale Urges Wales Not To Count Their Chickens . . . As Estonia Aim For Upset

By Gareth James

Gareth Bale has warned his Wales teammates not to risk their World Cup qualification bid by taking Estonia lightly on Wednesday night.

The Wales captain insists his team are focused on upsetting Belgium and winning their qualifying group.

Belgium, the world’s number one ranked team, lead the way in Group E with 13 points from five games and have so far scored 20 goals in qualification.

Wales are seven points adrift of Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils with two games in hand and welcome bottom-placed Estonia to the Cardiff City Stadium.

“We’re fully focused on trying to win the group,” said Bale, who kept Wales’ World Cup ambitions alive with a hat-trick, including a stoppage time winner, in Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Belarus.

“If we win every game, we qualify. In a way, it’s still in our hands but there’s a long way to go.

 

“We can’t look two months down the line. We need to focus on the next game, which is Estonia, hopefully get three points and move on to the next one.

“We’re purely focused on the next game. I know it’s a cliche and everyone says it, but we can’t look past that because against Belarus everyone was expecting us to win and it turned out to be one of the hardest games.”

Victory over Estonia would see Wales leapfrog the Czech Republic in to second place and boost hopes of landing a play-off spot should Belgium, as expected, top the section.

Bale extended his Wales goals record to 36 in Kazan with his second international hat-trick.

It ended a 16-game Wales scoring drought stretching back to October 2019, but Bale said he was not concerned as he was “creating enough goals in terms of output to help the team”.

The Real Madrid forward will win his 99th cap against Estonia and is set to become the second Welshman to reach three figures after Chris Gunter in the Czech Republic next month.

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Qatar 2022 will probably be Bale’s last opportunity of playing at a World Cup, but the 32-year-old says he is not in favour of proposals which are part of a FIFA feasibility study to play the tournament on a bi-annual basis, instead of its traditional four-year cycle.

“It’s not something I really like. I like the tradition of every four years,” Bale said.

“It has that prestige like the Olympics where it comes around every four years and it feels that little bit more special because it’s not happening too often.

“I don’t really like that every two years because it loses that bit of history, especially the fact it is over four years and it’s a long time to the next one.

“It does make it that bit more prestigious.”

Wales are hoping for a 20,000-plus attendance with fans welcomed back into the Cardiff City Stadium in large numbers for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

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The last time Wales hosted such a crowd was in November 2019 when the Dragons beat Hungary 2-0 to qualify for Euro 2020.

“We know how important our fans are,” Bale said. “The Red Wall gets behind us all the time, no matter how we are playing.

“They get us through games and make us get good results. I’m excited to play in front of them and I’m looking forward to that national anthem at the start of the game.”

Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu, Tyler Roberts, Brandon Cooper and Harry Wilson are all available after missing the Belarus win for one reason or another.

Rodon has been injured and not featured for Tottenham this season and his presence could be important as Wales’ defence were shaky at times in Kazan.

Boss Robert Page said: “It’s great that he’s joined up in camp. He’s had one training session and he’s fully fit.

“He’s a massive part of what we’re doing moving forward and it’s great to have him back with the boys.”

 

 

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