Keane says many teams had tried and failed to stop Wales ace

New Straits Times - - Sport -

IRE­LAND have no spe­cial plan to nul­lify Welsh su­per­star Gareth Bale in to­mor­row’s cru­cial 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier be­cause it would never work any­way, as­sis­tant man­ager Roy Keane said.

Keane, him­self a stand­out if dif­fer­ent type of player to Bale when he played for Manch­ester United and Ire­land, said many teams had tried — and failed — to stop the Wales and Real Madrid for­ward.

Group D lead­ers Ire­land, who have lost sev­eral key play­ers to in­jury and the in­flu­en­tial Rob­bie Brady to sus­pen­sion, have a two­point lead over Ser­bia and a four-point ad­van­tage over the Welsh go­ing into to­mor­row’s clash.

Keane, whose chance of play­ing in a World Cup came to a dra­matic end in 2002 when he stormed out of a pre-fi­nals train­ing camp, said on Tues­day: “Do you not think other play­ers and coaches have tried to come up with a plan be­fore?

“But the top play­ers seem to fig­ure it out and they’ll af­fect the game.

“Bale has done that for a num­ber of years for Madrid and on the big oc­ca­sions. I can’t say we have any par­tic­u­lar plan, but hav­ing said that, we will re­spect all the Welsh play­ers.

“They have got some good play­ers around Bale who give him that foun­da­tion to go and express him­self, so that’s why he has a big im­pact on all their re­sults, whether it be goals or as­sists. The stats will tell you that.

“But your eyes don’t lie to you: He’s a good player and we look for­ward to the chal­lenge of chal­leng­ing our­selves against him.”

Bale, who shone in

Wales’s fairy­tale run to the Euro

2016 semi-fi­nals and has scored four goals in four games in the World Cup qual­i­fiers, has al­ways had the no­to­ri­ously de­mand­ing Keane as a fan.

“He’s a top, top player,” purred Keane.

“He’s a bril­liant player who has been do­ing it reg­u­larly at the high­est level now for the last few years.

“I have al­ways liked him. I even liked him when I was man­ager at Sun­der­land (Bale was a teenager at Southamp­ton).

“He’s a top player, I like watch­ing him play­ing. He’s a big player for Wales and a big player for Real Madrid.

“Do you know what? Our lads should look for­ward to the chal­lenge of play­ing against the best.” AFP

Gareth Bale has scored four goals in four games for Wales in the World Cup qual­i­fiers.

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