The Welsh national team will play their first World Cup match since 1958 when taking on the USMNT on Monday, November 21.
The team originally concluded the UEFA qualifying cycle second in their group behind Belgium, before reaching a playoff knockout match against Ukraine and triumphing 1-0 with an own goal off of a Gareth Bale free-kick.
Now, as Wales prepares for their first World Cup campaign in 64 years, expectations soar. But Gareth Bale maintains he and the team are ready for Group B action.
“It’s probably the biggest honor we could have for our country, qualifying for a World Cup, something we haven’t done in 64 years. It’s history in our country. Schools are going to stop to watch our games [the second group game against Iran kicks off at 10:00 GMT]. Kids are going to miss school, fortunately for them,” said Bale.
“It’s a massive piece of history in our country and something we have all wanted for a long time. We have the support of the nation back home, no matter what happens, as long as we give 100% our country will love us for that.”
Bale is coming off of a MLS Cup victory, scoring the extra-time equalizer to lead LAFC to the trophy. But he saw limited time on the pitch prior to the final, nursing an injury in the weeks leading up to the World Cup.
Now, he insists there are no injury concerns.
“I’m right where I want to be – I’m here! I’m ready to go,” Bale said in the pre-match press conference.
“We’ve all been training hard in the last week, adapting to the heat and time zone. We have no excuses now. We’ve put all the hard work in. It’s game time tomorrow and hopefully we can step up and deliver what needs to be delivered.”
Though Bale is available to feature against the USMNT, Wales manager Rob Page confirmed Joe Allen will likely miss out.
The midfielder hasn’t featured for Swansea City since September, after picking up a hamstring injury.
“We said from the start we’re going to give every possible chance that we can to get him to play that first game, he’s probably not going to make it,” said Page.
“We could have pushed him but if it breaks down then he’s definitely out of the tournament, let alone the second game. Risk and reward. We’d have liked him for the first game, but we’re not going to push him to the point of completely losing him.”
Wales prepares to face Group B Iran on November 26, and England on November 26 after taking on the USMNT.