Cunningham not confident about Ireland beating Wales

The former Irish defender admits Wales will most likely get something from the game

BY Rob Fanning 14:55 Thursday 23 March 2017, 14:55 23 Mar 2017

©INPHO/James Crombie

Looking ahead to Ireland’s enormous World Cup qualifier against Wales this Friday, Kenny Cunningham told Off the Ball he feels the psychological mindset of the Welsh will be very hard for Ireland to overcome.

"I’m not confident of a win, for a couple of reasons. We’ve lost a few players through injury, four or five from the starting 11. Wales come to Dublin full strength but it’s more so the kind of psychological aspect from Wales point of view in terms of where there are in the group. Although they [Wales] aren’t talking about a must win game you sense that will be the mindset of the players. Although I think we [Ireland] will certainly be going out for a win but I think the mentality between both sets of players will be very different. My gut feeling tells me Wales will probably take something from the game, if not the win."

Ireland currently occupy top spot in Group D sitting nicely on ten points, four points above Wales. A victory for either side would be hugely significant as both teams seek qualification.

“When the game starts Martin will set out the team, we will understand our shape and know how they are going to play. That won’t be easy. The way Wales play I imagine it will be that 3-4-3 system with Bale and Ramsey playing in those little pockets off the main striker. From our point of view tactically it’s how we deal with that. They can take us earlier in the game if they start working those little combinations.”

Gareth Bale is undoubtedly Wales' most dangerous player. The Real Madrid superstar had a monumental input in getting his country the the semi-finals of the Euros last summer. Although Cunningham sees Bale as a serious threat, he feels that Ireland need to be focused on the whole Welsh system, rather than just the 27-year-old.

“We don’t see man-to-man marking as much these days, I’m surprised we don’t see a lot more. It will be a case of getting bodies around him and denying him getting the ball in space. But for me it’s about the Welsh system and not Gareth Bale. If we don’t deal with how they play in terms of how high up the pitch we press them it will have a ripple effect. Bale will end up getting the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch. For me it’s about what we do higher up the pitch, do we take a conservative approach and ask our wingers to drop back and help out or do we keep pushing forward?”

Ireland play Wales on Friday March 24th, kick off 7.45pm.

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