Wales set for night of nerves against Turkey


Head coach Robert John Page (C) of Wales attends a training session ahead of the 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024) Qualifier Group D match between Wales and Turkiye in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom on November 20, 2023. 

Wales host Turkey in their final Euro 2024 qualifier on Tuesday night knowing their dreams of a direct route to next summer's finals will be decided both in Cardiff and Croatia.

Wales' 1-1 draw in Armenia on Saturday saw them lose control of their own destiny in Group D.

It means Rob Page's side must beat already-qualified Turkey in Cardiff and hope Croatia drop points at home to Armenia in Zagreb.

Should a sellout Cardiff City Stadium crowd not get the two results they desire to reach the finals in Germany, Wales do have the relative luxury of being assured of a place in March's play-offs.

However, discussions of fall-backs and fail-safes have not been welcome in the Wales camp while the possibility of automatic qualification remains.

"We're having no talk of play-offs," said Wales manager Page.

"If we're talking play-offs, we may as well call the game off on Tuesday. That's our mentality and attitude.

"The campaign is not over. If you'd have seen training, you will see the players don't believe it's over. We're fully focused on the job we've got and we don't want any regrets when that final whistle goes.

"We want to take control of ourselves and the last thing is not give the level of performance we did against Croatia (in October's win in Cardiff) and the result has gone for us elsewhere. That would be a devastating blow to take."

Wales have already suffered their share of blows during this bid to reach a fourth major championships out of the past five.

After a positive start with an unexpected opening draw in Croatia and a straightforward home win against Latvia, Wales seemed set for the play-offs following disastrous back-to-back defeats against Armenia at home and Turkey in Samsun during the summer.

A win in Latvia and last month's superb Cardiff success against Croatia swung the odds of a top-two finish back in Welsh favour, before Saturday's frustration in Yerevan handed advantage back to Croatia.

Page, the subject of much speculation and scrutiny over his position since the summer, said he had no remorse over his selection and tactics in Armenia, whose own qualification hopes ended when Croatia beat bottom side Latvia on Saturday evening.

However, Page will be fully aware that there will be regrets if Wales do not fulfil their side of the bargain should Armenia succeed in denying Croatia the victory they need.

"We had a meeting to address it because we wanted to make sure full focus is on Tuesday's game," Page said. "We're not admitting defeat and thinking 'why not?' when it's still in our control.

"We're not thinking of the play-offs because if we win a game potentially we can qualify if the other result goes our way. What I don't want to do is walk off at the end of the game with one eye on the play-offs and the result's gone for us and we could have taken charge of it."

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