Broadcaster and former Bont FC defender Trystan ab Ifan looks ahead to the forthcoming Wales vs Belgium European Qualifier.
Cambria Nostra: We’ve been here numerous times before. Does it really feel different this time? What’s your gut instinct- will Wales be in France in 2016?
Trystan: It’s got to be a hopeful ‘Yes!’ But I felt the same pre-Romania 1993. This feels a more complete team, there’s more of a team spirit I’d say, and our star players are hungry for it from the performances they have given so far. I’m not sure that could have been said over the last few decades.
CN: Belgium are currently one of the top teams in World football. For Wales to get a result tomorrow who, apart from Gareth Bale, do they need to be at his best?
T: The Williams/Chester partnership is one of the most important in my view. For them to stay solid in the back the attackers should be able to perform more freely.
CN: And Belgium, a team with so much quality, if you could stop one of them performing tomorrow who would it be?
Hazard has to be the main one to watch in my opinion, yet again Fellaini’s exit gives us a better chance at neutralising their attack. Keeping their attackers quiet and seeking out those counter attacks through the middle could be a good game plan for us.
CN: Tickets sold out immediately for this game, was it the right decision to play it at the Cardiff City Stadium and not at the Millennium Stadium?
T: Totally right. I’m dreading already the mention of returning to the Millennium stadium. Welsh football should stay in a football stadium, not a rugby stadium! I remember the atmosphere (or lack of) on many occasions in the cavernous Millennium, none more than the Finland game a few years ago….I’ve seen more life in a dead jellyfish than I did in that stadium that night. As an aside, I’d like to congratulate Celtic on bringing in the safe standing areas recently….let’s make Wales the first home country team to bring it in. That would be a matter for Cardiff FC to discuss as well of course.
CN: In a recent lecture at the Hay Festival Prof Laura Mcallister, chair of ‘Sport Wales’, said that it would be better for Wales to qualify for France 2016 than to win the Rugby World Cup? Do you agree?
T: To an extent yes, both would be great achievements but in a wider context, it would put Wales on an international platform from a sporting and global perspective – thinking of the size of the world’s football family. We will always be thought of as Western England in many international quarters until we make our stamp on an international finals level…Simply qualifying would be the first step towards this……………………..then world soccer domination ;-))))
CN: The feel good factor seems to be back in Welsh football; there’ll be tens of thousands in Cardiff tomorrow – do you prefer a rugby or football international? Is there a big difference in the feel and atmoshphere?
T: As one who will be there tomorrow evening cheering the team on, I feel sorry for those from further afield than Cardiff and the out-laying areas who will be rushing down after work. Some might have to leave early or even take a day off all because of the K.O. time. Although, once in the sold-out stadium I doubt the place will be lacking in atmosphere, especially after recent form. At least a great majority will be there to watch the football tomorrow, unlike a large minority of “rugby” fans at the Millennium every time I have been there recently, who are more interested in spending their time queuing for booze, chatting through the game and generally doing anything except watch the rugby for which they have paid through the nose to have the unenvious pleasure of watching!!!
CN: Belgium with it’s two main languages shares similarities with Wales; as a travel destination it’s often portrayed as being drab and boring, yet its fans are amongst the most fun-loving in World football. Have you been to Belgium or have you any plans to visit?
T: I don’t remember having visited Belgium: there again that might be down to their super strong grogg. I have imbibed a few Duvells in my time though and am a big fan of Ardennes pate on toast. And as many of my age I’m continually fighting the Battle of the Bulge!!!!!
CN: Belgian Waffles or Belgian Chocolate?
T: Waffles Tregroes every time!!!
CN: ‘Zombie Nation’ or ‘Can’t take my eyes off you?’
T: Eric Prydz – Call on me………just to get a sweat on!!
CN: You’ve already stated that you’ll be at the stadium so that leaves the final question. What’s your prediction for the evening?
T: I’ll be there (pick and shovel-less). My prediction is a 1-0 win for Wales. Just wished we could have sneaked a home win against Bosnia instead of the draw…..hope that won’t come back to haunt us!! Ymlaen!!!!