World Cup: Wales take on Ukraine to secure place in Qatar – and know the world will be willing their opponents on | UK News


In a sunny garden in Cardiff, six-year-old Robert plays on a swing.

Six weeks ago, he left his home in Lviv with his parents after being contacted by a Welsh family offering them a place to stay.

But as their host Sarah and her family prepare to cheer Wales on to a place in the World Cup on Sunday afternoon, Robert’s mother Mariia has a ticket to the match to support Ukraine.

Mariia and Robert are staying in Cardiff
Mariia and Robert left their home in Lviv six weeks ago

Together, Sarah and Mariia have put up the flags of both nations as a show of mutual support.

“Emotions are very big,” Mariia says. “I think I’ll be happy when Ukraine win, but if Wales win, I don’t mind.”

She adds: “One man said, ‘on Sunday we are not friends, but on Monday we will be friends again’.”

Both flags are being put up

For Wales, the stakes are high: a win would mean a place in the World Cup for the first time since 1958.

And what makes it all the more tantalising is that they would go into the same group as England.

The draw was made in Doha in April, and Group B was left shrouded in some uncertainty, given that three teams were still in the mix for the fourth and final spot.

With Ukraine having beaten Scotland in their first play-off fixture, they’ll be hoping to claim another British scalp and make it to Qatar.

The Group B line-up for now is: England, Iran, the US, and either Wales or Ukraine.

Soccer Football - World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Play-off Semi Final - Scotland v Ukraine - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain - June 1, 2022 Ukraine's Roman Yaremchuk celebrates scoring their second goal with fans Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith
Ukraine beat Scotland 3-1 at Hampden Park

‘Bale Ale’ will be flowing come kick-off

On a shop just across the road from Cardiff Castle, Ukrainian and Welsh flags fly side by side.

But in Elevens Bar and Grill down the road, Wales supporters are desperate for a win.

The bar serves pints of “Bale Ale” in tribute to their star player.

The walls of the pub are also lined with memorabilia from Euro 2016, when Wales reached the semi-finals.

Gareth Bale has a beer named after him
Gareth Bale has a beer named after him

How are the fans feeling?

Fans hope Gareth Bale and the team can build on recent success in the Euros.

James Pattison, eight, admits he’s “feeling a bit scared” ahead of the match. But when pushed for a prediction, he confidently guesses 2-0 to Wales.

His father David is quietly optimistic.

“Not in my lifetime we’ve been in a World Cup, so I think obviously after the Euros and excitement about what Wales have done – fingers crossed,” he says.

“If the result doesn’t go our way, I don’t think anyone’ll begrudge the Ukrainians going into the World Cup finals in the current situation, which is absolutely tragic.”

Wales football captain Gareth Bale receives an MBE
Wales captain Gareth Bale is his team’s talisman

The Ukraine team are fresh from victory over Scotland on Wednesday.

They came out fighting in their first match since the invasion.

Welsh supporters, used to their side being so often the popular underdogs, know that in this game, the world will be willing their opponents on.

The match, at the Cardiff City Stadium, kicks off at 5pm on Sunday.


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