2018 World Cup qualifier: Wales manager says star man Gareth Bale ‘getting better and better still’
CARDIFF // Gareth Bale takes his first step on the road to 2018 World Cup qualification with Wales against Moldova on Monday and manager Chris Coleman believes he is still getting better.
Bale, 27, scored three times as Wales created a sensation by reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2016, matching the best performance by a British team in an overseas tournament.
The challenge now facing him is to build on that momentum by firing Wales to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Coleman says the Real Madrid flyer is hungry to make more history.
• Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale ‘couldn’t care less’ about losing world’s most expensive player tag to Paul Pogba
“Gareth scored inside 75 seconds of Real’s first game of the season [against Real Sociedad], but I never get surprised by him,” Coleman said ahead of the Group D opener at Cardiff City Stadium.
“I know he’s capable of almost anything and I think Madrid are very excited about the future with Balo.
“They recognise that they’ve got someone who’s going to be there for a while and someone who is capable of winning everything.
“He’s getting better and better still. Along with that incredible ability, he’s got that first-class mentality as well.
“It’s a winning formula for Real Madrid and for Wales, and I think he will have another good season.”
Wales were among the fourth seeds in qualifying for Euro 2016, but their exploits in France catapulted them into Pot 1 for the World Cup qualifying draw.
In an evenly balanced group, they are likely to face strong challenges for the one automatic qualifying berth from Austria, Serbia and the Republic of Ireland. Georgia complete the pool.
While Bale is fit and firing, Wales will be without Aaron Ramsey against Moldova, as they were when they lost to eventual champions Portugal in the Euro semi-finals.
The Arsenal midfielder has a hamstring injury.
Attacking midfielder Jonathan Williams, who recently joined Ipswich Town on loan from Crystal Palace, is also out.
Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is expected to start despite missing Palace’s 1-1 draw with Bournemouth last weekend due to a leg problem.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport
Published: September 4, 2016 04:00 AM