Gareth Bale speaks ahead of the big game against Ukraine.
Wales captain Gareth Bale has said he would make no apology to Ukrainians were Wales to deny them their World Cup dream today ahead of the big game.
The Welsh side will be hoping to secure their own World Cup destiny after failing to reach the first finals of the tournament since 1958.
Ukraine has now been at war for over 100 days since Russia invaded its territory in February.
While expressing sympathy for Ukrainians’ plight, Bale insisted that securing the Wales’ first appearance at a World Cup for 64 years was the only thing focusing Welsh minds.
The Wales men's team is hosting Ukraine in Sunday night's qualifier, as the sides clash in hopes of securing a spot at the World Cup in Qatar.
"It’s a game of football. We want to win."
Asked at a press conference ahead of the match if he would apologise to Ukraine if Wales ended their World Cup hopes, Bale said: “As horrible as it sounds, no. As it is a game of football and it is a competition that we want to get to as well.
“Everyone in the world feels for Ukraine. It is sport that unites everybody. We understand what it will do for Ukraine, but we want to get to the World Cup.
“That is not coming from a horrible place. It is coming from our country and hearts as we want to deliver for our own fans,” Bale added.
Told that Ukraine – who beat Scotland 3-1 at Hampden Park on Wednesday to book their final place – could count on support from around the world, Bale replied: “We’ll be the most popular team in the stadium, that’s the main thing.
“We understand the awful things going on in Ukraine. Our hearts go out to the kids, families and people of Ukraine. We’ve all felt awful during this time and not been able to do too much. But come Sunday, it’s a game of football. We want to win.
“It’s difficult to say whether it’s ‘the’ big game (of his career), we played in a semi-final of a European Championship. But it’s a massive game. There’s no hiding it. We’ve only ever played in one World Cup.
“This is a stepping stone onto the biggest level and we’re desperate to win to achieve our goal. Everyone wants to play at a World Cup. It’s no different for me – it is missing (on his CV) – or for every member of the squad and coaching staff.”
Bale’s future remains uncertain for now with retirement being touted as one option should Wales’ World Cup dream perish.
However, the Wales captain insists his future in the sport does not rest on the outcome of Sunday’s play-off final.
“All my focus is on this massive game and I really don’t need to think or worry about anything else,” Bale said.
The 32-year-old has also been linked with hometown club Cardiff, former team Tottenham and Newcastle, as well as the MLS in the United States.
Wales manager Robert Page, who confirmed that Bournemouth forward David Brooks would join up with the camp after being given the all clear following cancer treatment, insisted Wales could not dwell on the situation in UkraiHe explained: “The message pre-camp was, if we could take away what they’re going through, we would in a heartbeat.
“Now, this is business and that’s it. This is an opportunity for Wales to qualify for Wales and full focus is on that.
“When you’ve got the quality that we’ve got in that changing room, then you trust in that.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...