World Cup defeat leaves Wales fans ‘devastated’ and facing elimination
Wales fans said they were “devastated” after a last-gasp defeat left the team on the brink of World Cup elimination.
Supporters who made the long journey to Qatar to see Wales’ first World Cup appearance in 64 years admitted their side was not good enough as they were defeated 2-0 by Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Friday.
Many of the Red Wall remained to cheer on their national side after the final whistle and a chorus of ‘Yma o Hyd’, the team’s official World Cup song, rang out as players left the pitch.
Others said they felt for manager Rob Page after witnessing his family in tears at the end of the match.
Despite the “disappointment” some insisted Wales could still “smash” England in the third and final game in the group stage.
“We’re just sad really,” said Richard Jones, 56, from Cardiff, who is in Qatar with his 22-year-old son Yohji.
“We thought at the end that Wales would get a last-minute goal, as they often have. But we just lost it.
“And ultimately the right team won today, it’s just a real shame.”
Morgan Jones, 50, from Caernarfonshire, who had flown out with his partner and two children for the USA and Iran matches said: “It just wasn’t good enough, and really I’m happy for Iran. They deserved that win.
“We’ve got a lot to be thankful for though. We’re here and we saw Gareth Bale score a penalty – which was a highlight.
“But it does make you feel like the golden era of Wales football is coming to an end, the sun is setting on the team.”
The defeat, which also saw goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey sent off for a rash challenge, leaves Wales needing to beat England in the Group B decider, which Mr Jones admitted he was “dreaming of”.
He said: “We can still dream, it would amazing to go through after beating England.
“But at the moment, I think it’s highly unlikely.”
Some fans were more optimistic and when asked whether Wales would have a chance of winning the next game Alison Lewis, 62, Rachel James, 49 and Sheila Jones, 71, gave a resounding: “Yes”.
All three women said: “We’re disappointed for the boys more than anything.”
Ms Lewis, from Aberystwyth, said: “My heart breaks for Hennessey, to be red carded like that.
“It was very emotional watching it, but on the day the best team won. It’s as simple as that.
“It’s a shame the boys just couldn’t go up a gear.”
Of the next game against England, Ms James from Neath, said: “Go and get them boys.”
The women said they were sitting behind manager Rob Page’s family and said they felt for his two daughters who were crying at the end of the game.
The fans created another spine-tingling moment while singing the national anthem ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ at the beginning of the game, while Iran fans were either silent or whistled and booed throughout theirs.
Neither team’s players followed the lead of the German team who used their team picture prior to their match against Japan to protest against Fifa’s decision to impose sporting sanctions on captains who wear the One Love armband – a symbol of LGBTQ+ rights.
A number of supporters in the crowd wore rainbow coloured hats and other items, despite some having them confiscated at the game against the USA on Monday.
On Thursday the Football Association of Wales said Fifa had confirmed that fans will be able to wear rainbow garments inside stadium and urged the body to “to adhere to their message that everybody will be welcome in Qatar”.
Former Wales captain Laura McAllister said she would have worn her bucket hat even if Fifa had not offered reassurances. She told PA news agency: “I was always going to wear my rainbow bucket hat to today’s game, regardless of what we heard back from Fifa, but I’m really pleased we’ve been able to force Fifa’s hand on this.”
Arwel Owen said what happened on Monday had “spurred” him on to wear his rainbow bucket hat to the match.
The 38-year-old, from Hendy, said he is not a member of the LGBT community but felt it was important to be a supporter.
I don’t have any shame in supporting the movement wholeheartedly
“I don’t have any shame in supporting the movement wholeheartedly.
“I’ve been a follower of the Rainbow Wall for a while and have followed the women’s side for years, so I feel it’s important to make this small stand.”
Tensions reportedly flared near the stadium between pro-government fans said to have been harassing anti-government supporters, with a female supporter left shaken by the encounters.
Following the game, a small group of Iranian men and women stood playing and singing ‘Barayeh’, an Iranian protest song, as people gathered around and stood watch.
They also chanted ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ a slogan that has become popular during demonstrations in response to the death of Magda Amini.
Wales captain Gareth Bale once again passed a bucket hat to Iran’s captain at the kick-off.
Bale, 33, became Wales’ most-capped player, making his 110th appearance.
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