Wales are ready - Coleman

2015-06-12 11:22
Gareth Bale (Getty Images)

London - Wales manager Chris Coleman says his players are relishing a rare moment in the spotlight as they prepare for Friday's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier against Belgium.

Coleman's team and Belgium are locked on 11 points, with the visitors' superior goal difference giving them top spot head of the showdown at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Beating Belgium, currently second in the FIFA world rankings, would take Wales three points clear at the top of Group B and within touching distance of the European Championships in France next year.

Not since a Euro 2004 play-off defeat to Russia have Wales been in the running to add another major finals to their solitary appearance at the 1958 World Cup.

That statistic only adds to the pressure on Coleman's team, but the former Fulham boss insists there is no chance of his players wilting under the pressure of a big occasion his country have waited over a decade for.

"This is what we have always wanted," Coleman said on Thursday.

"The difference in this camp is the attention we have had and the interest from outside.

"It is huge, but we cannot complain because we have said for a long time we wanted to play in front of full houses against the best teams in the world - playing to do something special.

"Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger because with every result we get, the next game gets bigger. We are embracing it and it is helping the squad grow and mature.

"The more times you are in those big games and you take care of the pressure, you get better for it."

Wales star Gareth Bale will win his 50th cap on Friday and Coleman says the presence of the Real Madrid forward is an inspiration to his team-mates.

"It's fitting that his 50th cap comes in a top-of-the-table clash," Coleman added.

"Baley should be proud to get to 50 at his age and is a great example for our young players who haven't hit the squad yet. He's definitely a shining light there."

Meanwhile, Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois concedes the absence of injured Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini will be a significant setback in Cardiff.

Fellaini was ruled out with a groin strain after scoring twice in Belgium's 4-3 friendly victory over France in Paris on Sunday.

"Fellaini is really important for us. He showed that against France," Courtois said.

"Marouane is physically strong and Wales have a few strong players, so it would have helped to have him in the team.

"But we have a team with a lot of qualities and another player will come in for him and do the best he can."


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