On Saturday night the Wales players looked troubled, they were.
A 1-1 draw in Yerevan means automatic qualification to Euro 2024 is out of their hands. A hard-earned position is gone… for now.
Step forward a few days and the raw, negative emotion of the aftermath of the result against Armenia is gone.
Rob Page and Ben Davies would have me believe that I could step into the ring with Tyson Fury and stand more than a fighter’s chance – then I gave up and stopped dreaming. That is a fantastic dream. Anger drives me sideways!
Wales even need not dream. They made a mindset going into the game against Turkey that included the facts. What they have done is emphasize the positive side of the facts.
So here goes. Despite Wales’ draw with Armenia meaning qualification for the Euros is out of their hands, the players were reminded and as a result of speaking to Page and Davies, I was reminded that Wales could still qualify for the Euros.
What Wales need to do to qualify for Euro 2024
- Wales must beat already qualified Turkey on Tuesday and hope Croatia fail to do the same when they host Armenia.
- Wales will automatically progress if they win and Croatia draw due to their head to head advantage. Anything less and the March play-offs loom.
Break that fact and do it in the moment and that sounds good.
Wales will still automatically qualify for the Euros. Truth.
Wales have earned a play-off spot. Truth
They do that because of their successes. Truth
Now I’m not suddenly Rafa Benitez, I’m explaining why Wales are so happy 24 hours from playing Turkey. Park and forget the experiences of Saturday in Yerevan and then just destroy the facts. Classic, brilliant psychology.
How much of the game is played in the mind? At the elite end maybe more than any of us think.
Page mentioned earlier that on Sunday night back at their base in Cardiff: he brought all the players and coaches together for a meeting and chatted for the next 48 hours.
The psychologist of the squad Ian Mitchell was there and spoke, although there is nothing unusual about that, but it is in times when a team, an athlete falls that the power of positive thinking can be more powerful and clear. A strategy is at play here, why care about a bad result and its consequences if all is not lost? Focus on that.
It is possible that Wales will not automatically qualify for the Euros on Tuesday night. Croatia can beat Armenia which means it doesn’t matter if Wales beat Turkey.
But – there is a possibility of qualification. Put that in mind and Wales will surely play better against Turkey – something they can control – than if they approach the game by looking back at last Saturday’s negatives.
All of this creates that scenario of “what if?”
Cardiff City Stadium is a sell-out for the visit of Turkey, with the standard raucous, partisan atmosphere guaranteed.
What if someone in the crowd watching their Sky Sports App sees it change to ‘Croatia 0-1 Armenia?’ Will they keep quiet? No place can be crazy! The impossible, cannot happen.
I’ll take Tyson Fury down in the 3rd with a magic right uppercut. Why not dream?
Oh yes, and Wales have back-up. They are guaranteed a play-off spot next March. Truth.