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From Macdara Ferris in Cardiff
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
country, country, faithful I am to my country
Ahead of kick off in Cardiff City Stadium on Monday night, the atmosphere will reach fever pitch. A chorus of Welsh voices will be looking to inspire the nation with their anthem. The home faithful will belt out Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau – Land of our Fathers.
The Wales manager Chris Coleman will be hoping that his team will go on to win the game to help them get to Russia 2018 but that will also mean preventing the land of his father from making the World Cup. Coleman, while rightly proud of his Irish-born father, is being faithful to the country of his birth.
“My father was a Dublin boy but I won’t be thinking tomorrow night about how much I like Dublin or Ireland or that my Dad is Irish,” said Coleman, speaking to the media on Sunday afternoon ahead of Monday’s Group D match against the Republic of Ireland.
“I’m thinking about being born in Swansea. I’m a Welshman and I’m representing Wales. You lot are in the way of us. I have to try and get past that. That is my job.
“I spent so much time in Ireland. I think connections are always going to be there. I’ve still got family in Dublin. We are going head-to-head with the Republic but I want it to be us at the World Cup.”
Next summer will mark 60 years since Wales last made a World Cup. While Coleman isn’t calling on his squad to use the spirit of ’58 for inspiration, he certainly feels his team, who made such a mark at last Summer’s European Championships, are a golden generation.
“1958 is noting to do with this squad. What the players are doing now is that this is their time. They are doing a great job. It is a golden era. They proved that.
“They were labelled a golden bunch of players before we qualified [for France 2016]. I fought that but they have earned it now. They went one step further than any team went before them.
“This is as big a game as we have been involved with. The good thing about it is that we have been here before and we have that experience.
"I’m looking forward to a great game with a fantastic atmosphere. Nothing to fear. It is great to be involved with.”
Coleman is relishing the chance to make it back-to-back tournaments with his team. If Wales win and Serbia lose at home to Georgia, then Coleman’s team will top the group. Indeed should Serbia lose by two, then a draw with Ireland will also do them.
It is a far cry from the situation a few years ago when Coleman was under considerable pressure in the Welsh job as he recalled today.
“I am excited. I can’t wait. We look forward to these games. I’ve sat here before when if the next result was a bad one I was unsure I’d still be in the job.
“You have to enjoy this now. Playing in Cardiff in front of a full house. We have been playing in Cardiff City Stadium for seven years. This is our home.
“International football shouldn’t be something that is looked upon as a hindrance or in the way. Representing your country is the biggest honour. We have a very good team, a successful one at that.
“We are in a good position and in the spotlight tomorrow night. You wear the jersey with pride and give everything you got.”
For more reaction from the Welsh camp, see http://www.extratime.ie/articles/19871/play-off-permutations-no-distraction-for-gunter/
extratime.ie will be covering the Group D clash between Wales and the Republic of Ireland live from Cardiff. Our reporter Macdara Ferris will be in the Cardiff City Stadium to take you through the match build-up, including both pre-match press conferences on Sunday, and the game itself on Monday evening.