World Cup: Wales fans sing outside Qatar stadium
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England should be wary of facing Wales in their final Group B match next week in spite of the Dragons losing to Iran in a hugely disappointing performance on Friday, according to former USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Wales went into the match at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium knowing that a win would give them a great chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup but were unable to overcome the challenge posed by Iran, who struck twice late on to rubber-stamp all three points.
Wales found themselves up against it when goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey was sent off for a reckless kick on Mehdi Taremi during the closing stages of the match, which gave Iran the impetus to take control of proceedings in stoppage time. Rouzbeh Cheshmi went on to fire home from distance before Ramin Rezaeian added another just moments later to leave Wales needing a win against England in their next game to stand any chance of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds.
England should be hoping to win fairly comfortably based on how Wales performed against Iran, with Rob Page’s side failing to meet expectations over the course of the fixture and the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey struggling to impress for large parts of the contest. However, Klinsmann believes that England could pay a heavy price if they take things too lightly against Wales, who will be powered by the motivation to embarrass their historical rivals in spite of their lacklustre World Cup campaign thus far.
“You cannot influence the draw and the sequences of the games but I think maybe it plays into their hands, because if there’s one team who knows exactly how to play England, it’s Wales,” said Klinsmann in his role as a pundit on BBC Sport.
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Klinsmann went on to admit that although England could struggle against Wales, it will be hugely difficult for the Dragons to take anything from the match after claiming just one point from their opening two World Cup matches. He explained: “Obviously you try and get your points before that, they did that in the second half against the United States and today there was the opportunity there.
“At the end of the day, in a tournament you kind of need to check things off right away and focus on the next game. There’s no way you can look back now at incidents and issues that were, you’ve just got to look forward and say we have one more chance against England.
“As difficult as it is, that’s what you’ve got to do. You cannot time things, from the first moment in a tournament you’ve got to be spot on and I think if they had been spot on in the first half against the US they could have walked off with three points, then it would have been a different situation. Now, obviously, it’s a difficult situation.”
It remains to be seen whether Wales will be able to turn things around with an unlikely win over England in their next outing at the World Cup, which could allow them to qualify for the knockout stages if other results go their way. However, it seems as though it will take a miracle for Wales to get the job done after Friday’s sub-par showing, although they will be in no mood to give up the chase regardless of the scale of the task ahead.
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