Match Hub: Belarus vs Cymru
International
5 September 2021

Match Hub: Belarus vs Cymru

THE TEAMS ARE IN

05 September 202111:42am

Rob Page has made a number of changes to his Cymru starting line-up for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Belarus in Kazan today.

Gareth Bale returns as captain while Chris Gunter makes his 103rd appearance for his country. Brennan Johnson has also been included following his impressive display against Finland last week while Rubin Colwill comes into the team.

Follow @Cymru for live match updates and check back here later for the all the post-match reaction.

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PAPER ROUND

05 September 20219:27am

Cymru captain Gareth Bale is targeting World Cup qualification as his side prepare to take on Belarus in a crucial Group E qualifier in Kazan this afternoon.

Headlining The Sun's 'Goals' supplement, Bale spoke to Martin Blackburn about his dream of leading his country to the finals that will be played in Qatar in 2022, having already experienced two EURO finals.

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PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

04 September 20219:52am

The Cymru squad were back on the training ground on Friday as preparations continue for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying double-header against Belarus and Estonia.

Rob Page and his players now head to Kazan in Russia ahead of the match against Belarus on Sunday (2pm) before returning to Cardiff to take on Estonia on Wednesday night (7.45pm).

Ethan Amapdu, Tyler Roberts and Brandon Cooper will miss the match against Belarus due to visa issues but will be available for selection against Estonia.

Cymru warmed-up for the two games with a 0-0 draw against Finland in an international challenge match last Wednesday, with Page impressed by a number of individual performances on the night.

Here are a few photo's from yesterday's training session in Helsinki.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS

03 September 20219:02am

There have been five previous fixtures between Cymru and Belarus as the two teams prepare to meet on Sunday in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Cymru have claimed four victories over their opponents with Belarus earning their solitary victory in September 2000 as Mark Hughes' side suffered a 2-1 defeat in Minsk. Gary Speed was on target for Cymru but goals from Aleksandr Khatskevich and Valentin Bialkevich earned the home side maximum points. 

The two nations first met in October 1998 at Ninian Park in Cardiff when goals from John Robinson, Chris Coleman and Kit Symons edged a 3-2 win for Bobby Gould's team. Cymru then won the return match in Minsk the following September as Dean Saunders and Ryan Giggs were on target in the 2-1 victory.

A goal from John Hartson was enough for Cymru to claim a 1-0 win over Belarus in Cardiff in October 2001, but the two teams would not meet again until September 2019 for a friendly international when Daniel James scored the only goal in another 1-0 win in Cardiff (below).

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GROUP E SITUATION

03 September 20218:00am

Two goals from Romelu Lukaku earned Belgium a comfortable 5-2 win over Estonia on Thursday night as the Red Devils continue to set the pace in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group E.

However, there was an early scare for Roberto Martinez's side as Mattias Käit opened the scoring for Estonia inside the opening minutes of the match in Tallinn, but Belgium responded with goals from Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel, Thomas Foket and a brace from Lukaku to claim the points.

Meanwhile in Ostrava, a solitary goal from Antonín Barák on 34 minutes was enough for the Czech Republic to claim maximum points against Belarus. Cymru now take on Belarus in Kazan on Sunday (2pm) while Belgium host the Czech Republic in Brussels (7.45pm).

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REST AND RECOVERY

02 September 20214:09pm

Rob Page and his Cymru squad have had a quiet day in Helsinki following the 0-0 draw against Finland last night as attentions now turn to the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Belarus in Kazan on Sunday (2pm).

Ethan Ampadu, Tyler Roberts and Brandon Cooper are out of contention for the match due to visa issues but will be available for the third match of this international window when Estonia head to Cardiff on Wednesday night (7.45pm).

Meanwhile, Page was pleased to report after the draw against Finland that his already depleted squad had not suffered any further injuries as they prepare for two crucial Group E qualifiers, and also praised the positive performances from a number of the fringe players who impressed during the match.

The players and staff enjoyed a stroll around the Finnish capital earlier today and will return to the training ground tomorrow ahead of the next test. 

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THE TEAMS ARE IN

01 September 20213:01pm

Rob Page has named an experimental starting line-up for the match against Finland in Helsinki with goalkeeper Danny Ward handed the captains armband.

With 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Estonia scheduled over the course of the next week, coupled with a number of withdrawals, Gareth Bale is included alongside other experienced figures on the bench.

Follow @Cymru for live updates and check back here later for the post-match reaction and build-up to the match against Belarus on Sunday.

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PAPER ROUND

01 September 20217:39am

The enforced absence of Kieffer Moore headlines the back page of the South Wales Echo this morning as the striker will miss all three Cymru games in this international window.

Moore is one of a number of players missing from the squad ahead of the opening friendly against Finland in Helsinki later today with Aaron Ramsey, Joe Rodon, Neco Williams, David Brooks, George Thomas and goalkeeper Adam Davies also out of contention. 

In addition, Brandon Cooper, Tyler Roberts and Ethan Ampadu will all miss the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Belarus in Kazan on Sunday due to visa issues, but will be available for the match against Estonia in Cardiff on Wednesday, 8 September.

"It's been a difficult couple of days but it is what it is," explained manager Rob Page. "We can't sit and cry about it. We have to take the positives out of every situation and that is what we are doing. We have an opportunity to see other players, they have opportunities to step up to the plate and they have to grab the opportunities with both hands."

Meanwhile, Daniel James was a late arrival in Helsinki having completed his permanent move from Manchester United to Leeds United, while Ampadu has joined Italian side Venezia on-loan from Chelsea. Defender Connor Roberts also completed his move from Swansea City to Burnley on the final day of the transfer window.

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PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

31 August 20217:54pm

Rob Page and his Cymru squad were out on the training ground at the team base this morning prior to flying out to Helsinki to take on Finland on Wednesday (5pm).

Despite a number of players being ruled out of contention for the match, spirits were high as international football returns for the first time since the EURO 2020 finals with the squad preparing for the first of three games in an international triple-header.

Here are a few photos from the session.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS

31 August 20214:24pm

There have been 14 previous meetings between Cymru and Finland, with Cymru winning six games compared to Finland's four victories, with the remaining four games ending in a draw.

The first meeting took place back in May 1971 when a solitary goal from John Toshack separated the sides in Helsinki to earn Dave Bowen's team three points in EURO 1972 qualifying. Toshack was also on target in the return match at the Vetch Field, Swansea later that year as Cymru won 3-0. Alan Durban and Gil Reece completed the scoring.

Cymru suffered a 2-1 defeat to Finland in a friendly in Cardiff in March 2000 which was the first international football match played at the Principality Stadium. The teams also met in EURO 2004 qualifying, with Cymru winning 2-0 in Helsinki in September 2002 before being held to a 1-1 draw in front of over 70,000 fans in Cardiff a year later.

Chris Coleman's side were then held to a 1-1 draw against Finland in an international friendly in Cardiff back in November 2013. Andy King opened the scoring for Cymru early in the second half, but Riku Riski equalised in the final minutes for the visitors.

The two nations most recently met in the last edition of the UEFA Nations League. Kieffer Moore was the hero for Cymru in Helsinki as he scored the only goal of the game, while goals from Moore, Harry Wilson (below) and Dan James earned Cymru a 3-1 win the return match in Cardiff. The win ensured that Rob Page's side would become undefeated group winners.

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PAUL BODIN ON COLWILL AND COOPER

31 August 20214:16pm

Cymru U21 manager Paul Bodin spoke to the media last week about Rubin Colwill and Brandon Cooper, two of the latest players to progress through the intermediate pathway system and into the senior national team squad.

"Rubin looks even taller and bigger now than what he did in June," said Bodin as his U21 squad prepare to take on Bulgaria in Sofia next week. "He's a man mountain. He's a quality player and as long as he keeps developing he will be a quality player for Cardiff City and for the national team in the future. He fully-deserved his opportunity to be included in the EURO squad.

"He showed on his debut against the Republic of Ireland and in training that he's a quality player. It may have been a surprise for many people on the outside but when your within it and you see him from close quarters, and it's not just on the pitch. Off the pitch his temperament is tremendous, he's a great professional and a good example to all the other intermediate players that if you're professional and work hard there will be opportunities for you.

"I've seen Brandon having a couple of battles already this season playing for Swansea City, so it seems he has the bit between his teeth now. He wants to hold that 1st team position down now after that injury, so to see him back from that and go straight into Swansea's 1st team is fantastic."

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MEET THE REF

31 August 20214:12pm

Estonian official Kristo Tohver will take charge of the match between Finland and Cymru on Wednesday evening, a decade after refereeing a 2-1 victory for Australia over Cymru in another friendly international in Cardiff on 10 August 2011.

Now 40, Tohver has became a recognised official on the European and international circuit having officiated group stage fixtures in the UEFA Europa League since 2012. He has also refereed The New Saints twice in Europe, taking charge of their games against Rijeka in the UEFA Champions League in 2017 and against Ludogorets in the Europa League in 2019.

Tohver will be assisted on Wednesday by Silver Koiv and Sten Klaasen while Joonas Jaanovits is the Fourth Official. All of the match officials are from Estonia.

Rob Page's Cymru squad will prepare for their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Belarus (5 September) and Estonia (8 September) with a challenge match against Finland at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium on Wednesday (1 September). The match kicks off at 5pm. 

Keep checking this page for the very latest information and updates from the Cymru camp. 

If you'd like to purchase tickets for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Estonia on Wednesday, 8 September, full details can be found here: http://faw.cymru/tickets