World Cup 2022: Reaching last 16 would be an achievement for Wales – Ian Rush

Wales players celebrate reaching the World Cup
Wales reached the Qatar World Cup courtesy of a play-off final victory over Ukraine in June
Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Ian Rush believes Wales will have “done very well” if they reach the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Robert Page’s side are in Group B in Qatar alongside England, the USA and Iran.

Rush says Page’s players can “put Wales on the map” by winning their opening match against the Americans on Monday, 21 November.

“I think Wales are better being the underdog,” said Rush, who scored 28 goals in 73 international appearances.

“But they’re probably favourites to beat Iran and USA, and that puts a different pressure on the players, so we have to be very careful.

“But if Wales can make it to the last 16, I think they’ve done very well. And when you get to the last 16, anything is possible.”

England, who are ranked fifth in the world and are among the leading contenders to lift the World Cup, will be expected to progress from a group Wales captain Gareth Bale has described as “on paper the hardest” in the tournament.

The USA, who reached seven straight World Cups before missing out in 2018, are 16th in Fifa’s rankings, with Wales 19th and Iran 20th.

England have failed to qualify for only one World Cup since the 1970s, while Iran have reached four of the last five tournaments.

That makes Wales the odd team out in the group given that they have featured at the World Cup only once before, in 1958.

Former Liverpool striker Rush is one of numerous Welsh greats who never got the chance to play at a major tournament, something he describes as his “only regret” in football.

“I just want to see Wales play in the World Cup,” Rush told BBC Radio 5 Live Sport.

“What gave me promise was the 2016 Euros, how well Wales played there.

“Since those Euros, I thought ‘we’ve got a good squad here, we may actually get to the World Cup’. That’s when I started believing a bit more.

“[The first game] is going to be emotional, the same as 2016.

“They’ve done the Euros twice, now this is the world stage. If they can go and put Wales on the map by winning the game, it’s something to be very proud of.”

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