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Wales v Ukraine: ‘This is our time’, says FAW boss Noel Mooney

Gareth Bale scored twice as Wales beat Austria in their World Cup play-off semi-final in March
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.

Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney says Wales believe this is their time to reach a first World Cup since 1958.

Robert Page’s team will seal a place in Qatar should they beat Ukraine in Sunday’s World Cup play-off final.

Mooney says Wales’ focus is on winning even though the conflict in Ukraine is “very much in our thoughts”.

“We believe this is our time to get to a World Cup finals,” Mooney said.

“We are very close to the Ukraine FA. Funnily enough [through] my time with Uefa, I am very close to their president Andrey Pavelko and Yuriy [Kostritsky], their general secretary.

“They are going through an horrendous time. I do understand that the world will look at this [and ] like Eurovision, they want to see Ukraine get great global profile. We all do.

“But at the end of the day our job is to get to the World Cup. It will be decided on the football field. We believe we have enough in our locker to get us there.”

Ukraine set up the World Cup qualification decider against Wales with an impressive victory over Scotland in their semi-final on Wednesday.

Former Ukraine striker and manager Andriy Shevchenko has said the national team’s bid to reach the World Cup is “the hope of the country”, which has been under attack by Russia since February.

Some have suggested the Ukrainians should be given a bye to the tournament, which takes place in November and December 2022.

Mooney says Wales have and will continue to show “huge solidarity” with Ukraine, but that will not affect their bid to book what would be just a second World Cup appearance.

Wales have endured numerous qualifying near misses since 1958, just missing out on the 1978, 1986 and 1994 tournaments.

“Everything is set up with a massive crowd and a great energy behind us,” Mooney told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

“I feel very calm. I wasn’t here for a couple of the losses when we were so close. I have only seen confidence from our players. They are really buoyed for this.

“I have nothing but complete confidence in our guys to get the result on Sunday.”

Mooney has urged ticketless fans to stay away from the game, which takes place at a sold-out Cardiff City Stadium.

“There were two different scenarios, one was that the Scots were coming in many thousands, ticketless fans coming to Cardiff, and that was certainly a concern we dealt with [along with] Cardiff City Council, the police etc,” he said.

“Then when Ukraine beat them it changed the dynamic of it, with a lot less ticketless fans we believe coming to Cardiff. I hope that’s the case.

“We are all set for Sunday. We are pretty much there in terms of organisation.

“We have done everything we can do to make sure the event is great. It’s now up to our boys to give us the victory to get us to the World Cup. That’s what it’s all about now.”

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