Wales qualifying for World Cup would be an 'Owain Glyndŵr moment', says FAW boss

'If we can qualify the players will be idolised forever,' says Noel Mooney

Wales qualifying for the 2022 World Cup would be a "very special moment for the nation", the Football Association of Wales boss has said.

Wales host Austria at Cardiff City Stadium for a place in the World Cup play-off final on Thursday night.

Chief executive Noel Mooney compared it to the time of Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Welshman to hold the Prince of Wales title viewed by many as a Welsh hero who liberated his people.

Wales have not played in the World Cup since 1958, when they reached the quarter finals before suffering a 1-0 loss to Brazil, who went on to win the tournament.

Mooney said the Wales team appears "confident" and relaxed". Credit: PA Images

Thursday's winners will host Scotland or Ukraine in June to decide a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Wales are unbeaten in 11 competitive fixtures at Cardiff City Stadium - a run stretching back to November 2018.

Manager Rob Page has kept his cards close to his chest, taking "one game at a time" over visualising Wales in Qatar, but Mooney said he is "different to Rob on that one".

"I've seen us playing in the World Cup, I can see it in my mind's eye," he said.

"Obviously it's his job to make sure they're prepared match by match, but clearly an organisation we're very aspirational to get to the finals of major tournaments and the World Cup for us would be a capstone on that."

Manager Rob Page appeared relaxed at training this week. Credit: PA Images

Wales are unbeaten in the last three games against Austria, with Ben Woodburn's superb strike settling their last contest in September 2017.

Austria have not played at a World Cup since the 1998 edition in France.

Mooney said he feels "great" about their next fixture, adding that the players and Page "all look very confident and relaxed".

"You see them looking forward to it, they're all buzzing," he said.

"We're 180 minutes from playing in the World Cup final and that's what sport's about.

"We have no idea what the result will be but we're confident that we'll give it a really good go and hopefully get to Qatar for this World Cup."

The signs are Gareth Bale will start against Austria and win his 101st cap. Credit: PA Images

Mooney added that qualifying for the World Cup would put Wales under the spotlight like never before.

"There is no sport like football to put you on a world map.

"It's played in 211 countries in FIFA, it is by far and away the largest interest sport in the world so if our country of just over three million people can play at the top, top level of the world game it would be a phenomenal achievement for this country.

"We've got a group with the world's best team in it, Belgium, we've got two play-offs to play against very good countries, with obviously Austria and Ukraine or Scotland in the final.

"If we can achieve that, that will be a very special moment for the nation. We're talking Owain Glyndŵr back in the [1300-1400s] now, that's how special this would be.

"If we can do that in the next few weeks the players will be idolised forever."

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