Neco Williams confident Armenia can aid Wales’ Euro 2024 qualification bid

By Sports Desk November 19, 2023

Neco Williams believes Armenia can do Wales a favour against Croatia and help them qualify for Euro 2024.

Wales’ automatic qualification hopes were taken out of their own hands on Saturday by a wounding 1-1 away draw to Armenia and Croatia’s 2-0 victory in Latvia.

Croatia will secure the second spot behind already-qualified Turkey by beating Armenia in their final qualifier on Tuesday.

But were Armenia to draw or win in Zagreb, that would leave the door open for Wales who would then take second place by beating Turkey at the Cardiff City Stadium on the same evening.

“Armenia are a top team,” wing-back Williams said of opponents who have damaged Wales’ qualification more than any other by taking four points from them.

“They have got some very good players and, hopefully, they can do a job on Croatia like they did against us.

“We still have a chance because you never know what’s going to happen.

“It’s not in our hands and we have got to wait for the other results. There’s a lot of luck in football, and hopefully it will be on our side.”

Wales lost 4-2 to Armenia at home in June and they were shaken again within five minutes of the Yerevan return.

Lucas Zelarayan, who had scored twice in Cardiff, punished some sloppy Welsh defending and Armenia appeared in control until the final seconds of the first half.

But Wales were gifted a lifeline when Nair Tiknizyan headed Connor Roberts’ long throw in to his own net.

Williams said: “It was a tough game, end to end, and a lot of running.

“Both teams were going for the win and probably at times it looked scrappy.

“As soon as the lads came in after the game you could feel that, frustration. No-one talked and it felt like a loss.

“But we take a point from it and all we can do now is focus on our last game against Turkey.

“If we get the three points there you never know what’s going to happen.”

The odds are that Wales will end up in the play-offs in March, the same route they negotiated to reach the 2022 World Cup by overcoming Austria and Ukraine.

Finland, Iceland, Poland and Ukraine are all potential opponents this time, although the fixtures will not be determined until after the final qualifiers across Europe.

“It could be something for us,” said Williams. “We did it for the World Cup and, if it does happen, we’ve still got a chance.

“If we don’t qualify through the group, do it that way.”

Daniel James admitted the early Zelarayan goal before a hostile Republican Stadium crowd had thrown Wales out of their stride.

James said: “They scored early and you know it’s going to be difficult because it’s a tough place to come.

“We dug deep and got back in the game, but we couldn’t get that second goal.

“We’ve just got to pick our heads up and get ready for the next game against a very good Turkey team.”

Central defender Chris Mepham will miss the Turkey game through suspension after picking up his third yellow card of the campaign in Yerevan.

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