herald

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Draw enough for Wales says Gunter but Serbia eye win

Wales’ Aaron Ramsey (left) and Chris Gunter are pictured ahead of training in preparation for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier in Dublin.
Wales’ Aaron Ramsey (left) and Chris Gunter are pictured ahead of training in preparation for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier in Dublin.

As far as Serbia are concerned, the calculations have been put to one side and the calculators left at home for their trip to Georgia for a key weekend in the race for World Cup qualification.

But Wales maintain that they can afford to come away from Dublin tomorrow with a draw and still be in contention for Russia 2018, even though that outcome, a fourth successive draw, would leave them with a lot of catching up to do.

"It's not must-win," says Welsh defender Chris Gunter, a man who has experienced two draws and a defeat in his three games against Ireland at senior level.

"That's a saying in football I don't particularly like, and I certainly don't sign up to that one this Friday. If we were to draw the game are we stopping the group? Is there no point in playing the rest of the games?

"I'm not taking away from the fact it's a big game, it's going to be because we're halfway through the group.

"We're good at preparing for the game and not focusing on anything else but ourselves," added Gunter, who has an insight into the Irish camp from his time as a team-mate of people like Robbie Keane, Stephen McPhail, Paul McShane, Stephen Kelly and Alex Pearce.

Wales know they are in for a game in Dublin, but the other main contenders in the group, Serbia, could be excused for some complacency as they head east to play Georgia in Tbilisi tomorrow.

Georgia have indeed earned a draw against Wales in this group to date; the Georgians have also managed just one win in their last 14 internationals, that victory a stunning win away to Spain before Euro 2016.

Serbia's star forward Dusan Tadic, Shane Long's team-mate at Southampton, is predicting a tight group and also a home win win Dublin tomorrow, though a win for Serbia in Georgia and a draw in Dublin would see the Serbians go level on 11 points with Ireland.

"Wales were the favourites at first, especially after the Euros, but I would not be surprised if Ireland won tomorrow," he says.

"But no matter what the result is in Dublin, we have to look to ourselves and our own results.

"We have to aim for the win as each three points brings us closer to our dream of playing in the World Cup.

"Georgia are a good side, they showed that against Austria and Wales. They play on the attack and we have to deal with that," he added.

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