Gareth Bale is confident that the Andorra 3G pitch controversy will not affect Wales when they start their Euro 2016 campaign in the Pyrenees on Tuesday night.
Andorra’s artificial surface was cleared to stage the opening Group B match only last Wednesday after Uefa ordered a series of inspections with previous tests showing the ball rolled too fast. Before the qualifier in the capital, Andorra La Vella, Wales manager Chris Coleman chose to train on grass rather than 3G pitches for fear of picking up injuries.
Bale, however, insists that the pitch will not be an issue as Wales seek to make a flying start against opponents ranked 199 in the world. Wales are 41st. “You have to put it to one side,” Bale said. “Certain players and people don’t like it. But we have a job to do and when you’re playing for your country, no matter what the game is played on, we’re going to give 100 per cent.”
Bale carries the hopes of a nation after an incredible year in which he moved from Tottenham to Real Madrid, and won last season’s Champions League scoring the decisive goal in the final victory over Atletico. However, he says the expectation on him to deliver for Wales is not a burden. “I don’t feel any added pressure,” he said. “It’s just an honour to play for Wales and I feel the excitement of playing in front of the home crowd. Hopefully, we can do them proud this time round and qualify.”
Wales cannot afford a slip up with games against favourites Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina taking place before the end of the year. But Bale says Wales are confident they can qualify for a first major tournament since reaching the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden.
“There is a definite sense of excitement,” he said. “The start of every campaign is a new chance to qualify and this one is exciting because we have been together a while and also the fact more teams can qualify. It’s vital to get off to a good start.”Reuse content