Pres­sure is a good thing, says Cole­man

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - PHIL BLANCHE

CHRIS COLE­MAN has em­braced the pres­sure as Wales re­main in the race for au­to­matic 2018 World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Af­ter see­ing Tom Lawrence come up with a su­perb sec­ond-half win­ner in Tbil­isi, Wales boss Cole­man fo­cused on the Ire­land game and said: “We’re on dan­ger­ous ground if we go in with a game plan of try­ing to soak the pres­sure up for 90 min­utes.

“We are too good to do that. We’ll go and at­tack, go and score goals, we have to do that — it’s our strength.

“A point may be OK, but we’ll go for three points. That’s the way it’s set up. I think it will be a sen­sa­tional at­mos­phere in Cardiff and these are the games you want to be in­volved in. We al­ways seem to play other coun­tries who are in­volved and cel­e­brat­ing — but we wel­come the pres­sure.”

Cole­man felt Lawrence de­served the plau­dits af­ter work­ing hard for the team against Aus­tria and Moldova last month, only for Liver­pool teenager Ben Wood­burn to grab the head­lines with game-chang­ing con­tri­bu­tions off the bench.

But he also re­served spe­cial praise for cen­tral de­fender Ash­ley Williams, who shrugged off in­dif­fer­ent early-sea­son club form at Ever­ton to pro­duce a tow­er­ing dis­play to shut out Georgia.

“Ash is the cap­tain and he’s a huge pres­ence,” Cole­man said. “He’s put in an awe­some dis­play be­cause it’s tough com­ing here. It’s not all about Cardiff in the sun, 2-0 up, putting your­self up for a chal­lenge here. He does it ev­ery time.”

Wales’ win was achieved with­out star man Gareth Bale — the first time they had done so in 11 games when the Real Madrid for­ward has been missing. Bale will be ab­sent again for the Cardiff fi­nale and Wales hope he will be fit in time if they are in­volved in the play-offs.

“The last four years have not just been about Gareth,” Cole­man said. “He’s su­per im­por­tant to us but we haven’t had him, Joe Allen and Aaron Ram­sey a lot of the time.”

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