2022 World Cup: Wales – Dragons back with flames after time out of mind

CARDIFF, WALES - 24 MARCH 2022: Wales line up during the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off semi-final between Cymru & Austria at the Cardiff City Stadium on the 24th of March 2022. (Pic by John Smith/FAW)

Gareth Bale was the hero, scoring the game-winning goal in the playoffs to secure Wales’ return to the World Cup. Wales battled through thick and thin for 64 years after their debut appearance to make appearance number two. It was the longest gap between World Cup finals in history. The story of Wales is even more intriguing if their journey is anything to go by.

Wales had won a free-kick and Gareth Bale, the obvious most deadly dead ball expert, struck with precision. However, it was Ukraine’s Andriy Yamolenko who worsened the situation by wrongfully directing Bale’s strike with his head into his own net. Unfortunately for Ukraine, that was the only goal to come out of the entire 90 minutes of the final World cup qualifier play-off match between two nations, both with a single appearance at the world cup.

It remains a mystery how one of the oldest football associations, Football Association of Wales (FAW) have struggled to put their country on the football map. Nonetheless, recent developments seem promising.

In 1958, the dragons recorded three points after drawing all three games against Hungary, Mexico and Sweden which qualified them to the quarter finals to play Brazil. However, a strike from Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) ended the early hopes of the Welsh men with Brazil eventually winning the competition.

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As uninspiring as it may sound, Wales were yet to make an appearance in the European championship until 2016. They were however not disappointing as they pursued what may be their best-ever result in their football story. With six points, Wales topped a group that included England, Slovakia and Russia. They did that by beating Slovakia and Russia by 2-1 and 3-0 respectively and losing 1-2 to England. Notably, Gareth Bale scored in all three group matches but ceased to show up in the subsequent games.

The Dragons went past Northern Ireland with a 1-0 victory to set a quarter final clash against an in-form Belgian side. The red devils went into the game with a 4-0 triumph over Hungary from the round of 16 but that was not threatening enough to stop the dragons. They thumped Belgium by 3-1 to book a place in a semis where Portugal stood in their way. Two former Manchester United stars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani both scored for Portugal to end the wonderful journey of Wales.


Name: Gareth Bale

Age: 33

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Arguably, the biggest asset at their disposal ahead of the world cup now would be Los Angeles FC winger Gareth Bale; their captain, who doubles as their all-time top scorer with 40 goals. The former Tottenham Hotspurs man may relish the opportunity to score against England again as he did against the Three Lions in the 2016 European championship. Playing against the United States may also give Gareth Bale a sense of reunion with players from a nation he plies his trade. Then, Wales would also test the waters against Iran who are still seeking their first knockout stage appearance.

Name: Aaron Ramsey

Age: 31

Aaron Ramsey is another man Wales can depend on to deliver in critical moments. He has played for a number of teams in Europe including Arsenal and Juventus. At Arsenal, he sustained injuries which retarded his development coupled with a couple of loans but Ramsey managed to be involved in 371 matches. He also scored 65 goals and provided 65 assists.

Name: Chris Gunter

Age: 33

The Wimbledon defender is yet to hang his boot, but he may already be considered as a legend for the dragons. He started playing for the senior national team at age 17 while simultaneously playing for the youth sides. He has played 109 times and would increase that number when he retires. He has spent most of his time playing in the English leagues playing for teams like Tottenham Hotspurs, Nottingham Forest and Reading

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Head Coach: Rob Page

Age: 48

Robe Page may not be a household name among head coaches but his input in the current Wales senior national team is very significant. His ability to coach the u21s might have gifted him the ability to record success with the senior team. Arguably, success may have already been achieved after inspiring Wales back into the World cup after 64 years. He has also managed Port Vale and Northampton Town in recent years.


21 November 2022   United States           v              Wales   Al Rayyan, Qatar

25 November 2022         Wales                 v              Iran       Al Rayyan, Qatar

29 November 2022          Wales                v              England               Al Rayyan, Qatar

Appearance(s) so far: 1

Best Results: Quarterfinalists in 1958

Most capped player: Chris Gunter with 109 appearances

Captain: Gareth Bale

Top scorer: Gareth Bale with 40 goals in108 appearances



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