Coleman must overcome injury crisis

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Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Wales boss Chris Coleman is aiming to keep his patched-up side top of Group B when they welcome Cyprus to the Cardiff City Stadium in Monday night’s European Championship qualifier.

The Welsh sit top of the pool after an opening win against Andorra and a draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina but will be without 11 players for their third group game.

Already without 10 for the Bosnia draw, Jonathan Williams is now ruled out with a damaged ankle meaning Hal Robson-Kanu is in line to start after an impressive cameo appearance on Friday night.

The good news is that Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has shaken off a slight back injury to feature after drawing a rare blank in front of goal against Bosnia.

Asked if he was down to the bare bones in his squad, Coleman replied: “Yes, but there’s enough team spirit about this group.

“Team spirit doesn’t win you games, but without it you don’t win games either.

“You need it and we’ve got it, there’s a lot of courage in this group and we’re positive going into this game.”

And Coleman is not expecting an easy ride against a Cyprus side who shocked Bosnia in their opening qualifier with a 2-1 away win but lost at home to Israel by the same scoreline on Friday night.

“This will be a harder game (than Bosnia) because Cyprus are not going to come here and lie down for us,” Coleman said.

“At times it might not be pretty but all we need is the result, we’ve got to get the three points and if we do that the draw on Friday is magnificent.

“But whatever we get against the Cypriots we have to work hard for because they’re a proud nation and they’ll put it on the line.

“But the big prize is sitting top of the group going to Belgium next month and that’s got to be worth it.”

Cyprus coach Charalambos Christodoulou insists his players are not fixating on Bale as they aim to pull off a Euro 2016 qualifying upset.

Real Madrid star Bale, with 10 goals in his last 12 international appearances, will be the man Wales look to as they seek to retain top spot.

But Christodoulou says he has devised a plan to counter the threat of the entire Wales side and not just the world’s most expensive player.

“Bale is a great player, of course, and we have to be very careful with him because he can win a game by himself,” Christodoulou said at his pre-match press conference.

“But we are playing the whole of the Wales team and this is our plan – to think about the Wales team not only Bale.

“We have to face a very strong and experienced Wales team with top-class players who play for big clubs in Europe.

“All of our opponents are favourites against us. Wales is not a big name in European football but they are a very good side.”

Cyprus bring uncomfortable memories for Wales as they have beaten them twice in the last decade on Cypriot soil, once in a friendly and once in European Championship qualifying.

But Cyprus had not won for two years and failed to score in 17 months when they stunned Bosnia-Herzegovina in September, winning 2-1 away to throw the race for qualification places in the pool wide open.

However, that result appeared to be something of a false dawn when they lost their second group fixture last Friday – 2-1 at home to Israel.

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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