Wales’ long wait to feature on the grandest stage ended when they qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They failed to get out of the group, but Robert Page’s Dragons would have gained invaluable experience from their time in Qatar.
Before booking their spot in the 2022 version, Wales’ only previous World Cup appearance was at the 1958 tournament. They missed out on qualification in 1958 but were invited to compete in the competition due to Middle East politics.
Dragons Finally Qualify For A World Cup
2022 was different, though, as the Welsh earned the right to play in a World Cup after securing qualification in a memorable play-off against Ukraine at the Cardiff City Stadium in June.
Wales failed to get out of the group, while England were eliminated in the quarter-finals, but the final between heavyweights France and Argentina promises to be a special occasion in Lusail. There have been loads of World Cup 2022 tips and predictions thrown around during the tournament, but these two nations were always expected to go far in Qatar. France are the slight favourites to prevail.
Wales were knocked out in the group stage, collecting just one point from three games. The talismanic Gareth Bale equalised in a 1-1 draw with the United States in game one, but that turned out to be their only goal of the tournament.
Gareth Bale scored Wales' first World Cup goal in 64 years ?? pic.twitter.com/1h3OpEaP4A
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) November 21, 2022
The Dragons fell to a shock loss to Iran on matchday two which all but ended their knockout hopes. A 3-0 defeat to rivals England was the final nail in Wales’ World Cup coffin, and Page’s men caught an early flight home.
Can Wales Kick On Under Page?
Since the days of the late, great Gary Speed, Wales have been on the rise in international football. And we mustn't forget that Swansea City and Cardiff City have spent time in the Premier League in recent years.
— Wales ?????????????? (@Cymru) November 27, 2022
Wales finally booked their place in a major tournament by reaching UEFA Euro 2016. They made it to the semi-final stage in France, losing out to eventual winners Portugal. The Welsh also qualified and reached the knockout phase of UEFA Euro 2020.
Qualifying for a World Cup was what Wales wanted the most, and Page guided the nation to Qatar after a strong qualification campaign. They finished second behind Belgium in Group E after four wins, three draws and one defeat.
Wales beat Austria 2-1 in a play-off semi-final and then edged past Ukraine in the play-off final to secure their passage through to the World Cup finals.
The likes of Bale and Aaron Ramsey are unlikely to feature in another World Cup, but Wales have some impressive talent coming through the ranks. The Welsh boss took several experienced players to Qatar, but a lot of their squad were 25 and under.
Despite taking just one point and scoring only one goal, they would have learned a lot from their time in Qatar. Wales’ full focus will now be on qualifying for UEFA Euro 2024.