Robert Page avoids World Cup talk to focus on ‘final’ showdown with Poland

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

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Robert Page insists Wales will forget the World Cup on Sunday to try to stay in the top tier of the Nations League.

Wales remain last in the A4 League after losing 2-1 to Belgium on Thursday.

But Poland’s 2-0 loss at home to the Netherlands means Wales can come back up low by beating the Poles in Cardiff on Sunday.

Wales boss Page said: “It’s a final. Forget the World Cup, that’s the game we want to win on Sunday.

“We just have to get the guys back. There will be some changes made and we will put a team in place to win the game.

Captain Gareth Bale is set to start on Sunday after coming on as a second-half substitute in Brussels.

Bale had just one training session after joining camp late on Tuesday after playing for Los Angeles FC the day before.

When asked why Bale didn’t start, Page replied: “All the moves. Returning jet lag is hard work for players to adjust to.

“Throwing him straight into an away game against Belgium would be crazy.

“It was good for him to have a few minutes after the jet lag

“A wise decision not to play from the start, but I was keen to get on as fast as possible and help the team.

Wales’ Chris Mepham tackles Belgian Lois Openda, left, in Brussels (Tim Goode/PA)

(PA wire)

“It’s a big lesson for us. We were without five players who would make us stronger.

“There have been lessons learned here for the World Cup. I told them in the locker room, we asked for that.

“By qualifying for the World Cup, we ask to face nations like Belgium, like Holland, and we were in the matches until the end. That says a lot about this group of players.

Page hailed Brennan Johnson after the Nottingham Forest striker gave a glimpse of his talent by setting up Kieffer Moore’s header in the second half.

After the majestic Kevin De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi put Belgium in charge, Johnson launched into a 40-yard maze before delivering a superb cross at the far post.

“Brennan has been superb, he’s improved so much in such a short time,” Page said.

“I asked him for something different, in midfield.

“When you see him running with the ball, it’s great, it’s his game, it’s his strength.”

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was sent off in the final seconds for retaining the ball.

Martinez said: “It’s the first time I’ve been sent off. A new experience.

“I was surprised. I probably should have let go of the ball.

“We will see what that means but I will respect the referee’s decision.”

Belgium visit group leaders Holland on Sunday and Martinez said: “It’s the perfect game to prepare for the World Cup.

“This World Cup could be the best in terms of individual performance and mental freshness.”

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Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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