Getting the ball into the back of the net is ultimately what decides the outcome in football, no matter who makes the final touch. This is precisely what happened as Wales faced Ukraine, both teams battling for a place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, during a tense playoff encounter in Cardiff.
The weight of support for Ukraine has led to much sympathy for their cause, ever since the country was invaded by Russia in February 2022. The national football team was carrying more than just the hopes of their own people, as global fans of the beautiful game lent additional support. However, in the end, it wasn’t to be for the Ukrainian side and in the most frustrating of circumstances.
Wales claimed victory by virtue of a solitary own goal, deflected past his own goalkeeper by attacking midfielder Andrii Yarmolenko, following a powerfully struck free-kick by Gareth Bale. Despite their statistical dominance of the game, football can sometimes bring cruel outcomes, as the valiant Ukrainian team were ultimately beaten.
When the final whistle was blown, Welsh players and fans applauded their opponents, although this was also a time for celebration. For the first time since 1958, Wales have qualified for the World Cup finals, finally achieving their dream of qualifying for the showpiece international tournament.
Defying all the odds
Ever since the system of coefficient world rankings was introduced by FIFA, the Welsh national team has often struggled to establish itself amongst the leading teams, even though they have boasted some exceptional individual talents over the years. In March of this year, the team was ranked 18th in the world, according to the https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/wal
The worst position in the global football rankings came in 2000, when the Welsh slid as low as 109th position. However, over the last two decades there have been big improvements, including a spectacular charge to the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championship in 2016, significantly boosting their position in the rankings.
The last time Wales played at the World Cup, they were knocked out by a 17-year-old Pele who went on to win the competition with Brazil 🐐🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/ZiJLWtnLZx
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) June 6, 2022
Nevertheless, this tiny nation within the United Kingdom will always be regarded as outsiders, albeit one that aims to defy all the odds when they participate in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The principal task of qualifying for the knockout stage will be far from easy, during a group stage that pits them alongside England, Iran, and the United States.
Brazil are tipped as the World Cup favourites, closely followed by France and England, although odds vary significantly amongst international bookmakers covering the tournament. For the latest betting options available throughout the Middle East, odds and offers can be compared in detail, via https://arabianbetting.com/en/ where safe and verified bookmakers are reviewed in detail, including country by country guides.
Wales look to superstar Gareth Bale
One player undoubtedly shines more brightly than any other in the Welsh selection. Involved in the goal that sent his nation to the World Cup, albeit via an unfortunate deflection, Gareth Bale is the outstanding player in this team. His club achievements are without compare, having won the UEFA Champions League five times at Real Madrid, amongst the many other honours highlighted at https://www.realmadrid.com/en/football/squad/gareth-bale
Having scored 38 goals in 103 appearances for Wales, no player has ever scored more for the national team than Bale, who is also one of only three players to have achieved more than 100 caps for his country. The combined achievements for club and country make Bale a genuine superstar, one of the most decorated and successful players in the modern football era.
🗣 “It’s what dreams are made of”
Gareth Bale reacts to a historic night for Wales 👇pic.twitter.com/9orfHe7u7m
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 5, 2022
Following the expiry of his contract at Real Madrid, 32-year-old Bale announced his departure from the Spanish giants, just ahead of the World Cup qualification playoff against Ukraine. Interestingly, there is reluctance from Bale to discuss his future plans, although it’s fair to say that numerous clubs will be interested.
Incredibly, one team hoping to lure Bale to their cause is reportedly Cardiff City, who currently play in the English Championship. While he may be tempted to join his hometown club, regardless of them being outside the top flight, the player himself has hinted at “loads” of offers from clubs around the world. Keen to keep himself in top shape, it seems Bale will need to make his decision quite soon, eager to help Wales perform well at the World Cup.