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Wales urged to keep calm for key Euro 2016 qualifer

Wales coach Chris Coleman has taken the country's footballers to the brink of their biggest success in football for nearly six decades.
Wales coach Chris Coleman has taken the country's footballers to the brink of their biggest success in football for nearly six decades. Reuters/Andrew Boyers/ Livepic

Wales stand on the verge of qualifying for their first international tournament for nearly 60 years. But on the eve of Sunday's crunch Group B match against Israel, the Wales boss Chris Coleman has told his men to keep their focus.

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Coleman urged his players on Saturday to maintain their cool for their match in Cardiff against Israel which could seal their progress to next year's European Championship.  

Wales last reached a major tournament 57 years ago. That was the 1958 World Cup. En route to the finals they beat Israel in a play-off. 

"We all know what the possibilities are and what it's going to be like," Coleman said on Saturday.

"There's going to be a fantastic atmosphere, but we mustn't get caught up in it because if you do that you stop thinking about what got you there in the first place.

"We'll stick to the game-plan and I'm not bothered about the performance being remembered for loads of goals and lots of excitement.

"If that's the case and we came out on top, great, but we'll stick to what we've been working on and stay calm and focused."

The Group B leaders go into the game with their confidence high. They’re on a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions but will be without key midfielder Joe Ledley. He will miss the match due to a hamstring problem.

Victory in Cardiff would give Wales a place at Euro 2016 with two games to spare. They top the group with 17 points from seven games and have not let in a goal in the past four games. Israel still have a chance to qualify as runners-up. They lie third in the group with 12 points, two points behind Belgium.

The nine group winners and the nine runners-up qualify automatically for next year's tournament in France. The best third-placed side also progresses directly. The eight other third-placed teams will contest play-offs to find out the other four qualifiers.

Once that is settled, the 23 qualifiers will join the hosts France and will be drawn into six groups of four. The top two from those and the four best third-placed teams will advance to the last 16. The tournament then becomes a knock-out competition.

 

 

 

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