As Wales embark on a new qualification campaign, there seems to be a real sense of confidence, anticipation and excitement amongst the players… and understandably so.
With players that would be the pride of any national side and competition for places throughout the squad we surely have cause for optimism.
Ian Gwyn Hughes for the Football Association of Wales caught up with the world’s most expensive footballer, and one of Wales’ most experienced players, Gareth Bale.
IGH: "So Gareth, the start of another Wales campaign. Does it still bring a sense of excitement and anticipation?"
GB: “Definitely… and I think this campaign more than any other. It’s even more exciting, we feel we have a great team that’s now been together for a while, and we’re full of confidence. The fact that more teams can qualify this time around just adds to that sense of confidence.”
IGH: "Wales are strong favourites for the match against Andorra on Tuesday, we haven’t been in that position often in recent years. Does that increase the pressure?"
GB: “We want to win every game we go into, whether we’re underdogs or favourites. We’ll look forward to this game, as with any other, with 100% concentration, looking to get three points which is vital. We need to get off to a good start.”
IGH: "A lot has been made of the match being on a 3G pitch… does it bother you?"
GB: “At the end of the day, we have a job to do. We’re playing for our country. No matter where it be, what surface it be on, we’re going to give 100% and go there to win the game. For us that’s the most important thing.”
IGH: "And are you confident about this campaign?"
GB: “Yeah, we have to be confident, otherwise there’s no point in us being here. We feel we have a good team… that we’re playing good football. We have the right staff around us and everything is in place now for that (qualification) to happen. The main thing now is that we have to do the job on the pitch.”
IGH: "You recently played at a packed Cardiff City Stadium for Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. You must hope we’ll see similar attendances through this campaign."
GB: “The atmosphere (at the Super Cup) was amazing… but the fans who’ve come to see us in Cardiff have always been amazing. Of course, we hope we can have fuller stadiums in all the home games to support us. We feel we can qualify this time, and hopefully we can get more fans at the stadium to cheer us on and help us over the line."
Aaron Ramsey: “We’re confident. The preparation this week has been spot on.”Click here for the full interview with Aaron Ramsey.