Ben Davies: World Cup qualification ‘a dream for our team’

Venue: Cardiff City Stadium Date: Sunday, 5 June Kick-off: 17:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live, Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, BBC Sport website and app, plus live text online. Highlights BBC Wales.

Defender Ben Davies says Wales must stay focused on 90 minutes of football as they prepare to take on war-torn Ukraine in Sunday’s World Cup play-off final.

He admits it will be an emotionally-charged occasion, but Wales’ players have to put that aside.

“We are well aware of the situation that Ukraine is in right now,” said Davies.

“It must be incredibly tough to be in their shoes.”

Victory for Wales would see them secure only their second appearance at a World Cup and their first since 1958.

“It is something that we’ve been desperate to do for 50-60 years,” added Davies.

“It is a dream for our team and we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we are one game away, and the focus for us will be purely on that.”

Wales have come close to qualification in the past 64 years, but Davies says they do not dwell on those near-misses.

“We’ve only focused on what is in our control with the squad that we’ve got now,” he said.

“These boys are very fearless. It may be their first experience of crunch games since the Euros last year.

“I think the better we do, people always expect us to maintain that level, but the reality is we have a small group of players to pick from, comparatively, to teams we come up against.

“I really do believe we are punching above our weight.”

Ukraine secured their place in the play-off final with a 3-1 victory over Scotland at Hampden Park.

Former Ukraine striker and manager Andriy Shevchenko has said the football team’s bid to reach the World Cup is “the hope of the country” under attack by Russia, adding: “We need to play for the fans, for the whole of Ukraine, for those at home, for those defending the country and for those who left the country.”

Tottenham defender Davies says he has nothing but praise for the Ukraine players.

“Football can kind of seem a bit insignificant in these times and moments, and it is very difficult to try and rationalise that a game is so important when you’ve got such major events going on in the world,” he said.

“You have to just credit their players for the way they have handled it so far.

“The way that [Oleksandr] Zinchenko has handled it all in the media is a real credit to him, and he has shown what a stand-out man he is.”

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