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Welsh fans hoping for a performance full of pride ahead of Wales v England clash

28 Nov 2022 4 minute read
Lee Holloway, 43, (right) and Steven Williams, 47 (centre) from Rhydyfelin in Pontypridd, South Wales in the Red Lion pub in Doha, Qatar ahead of Wales’ clash against England on Tuesday. Picture by Bronwen Weatherby / PA

Wales fans in Qatar said that they were hoping for a performance that would allow Wales to hold its head up high as they prepared for the match against England on Tuesday.

Among the numbers on the heaving floor was new arrival Steven Williams, from Rhydyfelin in Pontypridd, South Wales, who had booked a ticket after seeing Wales’ poor performance in the last two games.

“A lot of people put us down after the last game but I thought I have to go out there – I’m here flying the flag for the Welsh,” the 47-year-old said.

“I’d like to come out with a win tomorrow, but that almost doesn’t matter as much as the statement we’re making here in Qatar.

“We’ve waited 64 years for this and we’re here in the bars, the restaurants, in the Souq and everywhere in between making our presence known.”

For others, including Lee Holloway, 43, from Pontypridd, the result matters more.

He said: “I just want us to go home with pride, but right now we can’t do that.

“I think when we play against out old enemies we turn up.

“But it’s going to be a tough game, there’s no doubt about that. If the boys turn up we might get a 1-0, but that might not be enough.”

‘Disappointing’

Isaac Thomas, a 23-year-old teacher from Swansea, has travelled alone to Qatar – not wanting to miss the moment to see Wales in a World Cup – and said he had so far had a “brilliant experience”.

“It’s a beautiful place and I’ve met so many friendly people, it’s nothing like it was portrayed in the media,” Mr Thomas said.

“The only disappointing thing has been the football.

“That and the price of a pint – but that hasn’t stopped us,” he joked.

“But the players just haven’t shown up yet. So I hope and pray for a win tomorrow and a draw in the Iran v USA game.”

Thomas Elward, 55, from Gilfach Goch, revealed he had been journeying to Wales away matches since he was 13 years old, and said he was “confident” Wales would defeat England.

“I’m confident we’re going to win, but it doesn’t matter if we lose because we support Wales, that makes us winners,” he said.

‘Amazing’

England and Wales fans enjoyed a raucous night in Doha ahead of the crunch game that will decide their World Cup futures, with beer flowing and songs sounding throughout.

The city’s Red Lion pub has become a popular haunt for supporters of both home nations, and the tens of thousands of international fans who have travelled across continents for football’s biggest tournament.

The English fans dotted throughout the place seemed more calm, than the Welsh and appeared to already be looking ahead beyond the group stages – confident they would qualify.

William Threlfall, 56, who lives in Cambridge and has been following England home and away for 30 years, described his experience in Qatar as “amazing” and predicted a 2-0 England win.

He added: “Tournament football starts when you are through the group games, we will criticise Gareth Southgate then (if needed).”

Sports minister Stuart Andrew has said he will wear the rainbow-coloured armband prohibited by Fifa when he attends the game.

The Conservative frontbencher, who is gay, said it was “really unfair” that football’s governing body prevented the captains of England and Wales donning the OneLove anti-discrimination armband at the 11th hour.


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