WELSH football star Ben Davies has vowed to prove the naysayers wrong as Cymru gears up for crucial Euro 2024 qualifying clashes against Armenia and Turkey. The Tottenham defender, stepping into the captain’s role due to Aaron Ramsey’s injury, is eager to guide his team to a fourth major tournament in five attempts.
Cymru, led by manager Rob Page, is riding high on the back of a stunning 2-1 upset over World Cup semi-finalists Croatia last month. Davies, embodying the spirit of Welsh resilience, delivered an impassioned speech, reminiscent of Dafydd Iwan’s iconic anthem “Yma O Hyd” or “Still Here.” The heartfelt address conveyed the Dragons’ refusal to succumb to challenges, echoing the sentiment that they are a team that never gives in.
Davies reflected on the speech, stating, “It was just a case of showing the reason why we’re here. It was backs against the walls stuff, showing that people doubted us again but we’re still standing.”
The path to Euro 2024 has not been without hurdles, as Cymru faced the retirement of their talismanic figure Gareth Bale. Undeterred, Davies emphasised the team’s unyielding belief, asserting, “We never stopped believing in this group. The mindset we’ve got is we can get a result against anyone. We’ve shown that.”
As Cymru prepares for decisive encounters with Armenia and Turkey, the possibility of automatic qualification hangs in the balance. While a play-off spot is assured due to their elite status in the last Nations League, Davies is focused on securing direct qualification. He acknowledged the challenge posed by Armenia and already-qualified Turkey but expressed confidence in the team’s ability to overcome the hurdles.
Reflecting on the journey, Davies remarked, “It’s quite clear the second game doesn’t matter if the first one doesn’t go our way. This week it’s full focus on Armenia. We had a tough result against them at home; it was a real wake-up call. They’re a good side, and it’s important we go there knowing we’ve got a big job to do.”
The upcoming fixtures carry added significance as they feature four stalwarts – Davies, Ramsey, and goalkeepers Danny Ward and Wayne Hennessey – who remain from the squad that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016. With the prospect of participating in their fourth tournament out of five, Cymru is poised to continue its remarkable journey.
“Growing up, it was a dream of Welsh football to be going to these major tournaments,” Davies shared. “That dream still exists, and this is another huge chance we’ve got. Once you get a taste of it, you want to do it again. That’s exactly where we are as a group this time.”
Cymru, having qualified for Euro 2020 with a dramatic late surge, draws parallels with their current campaign. Davies noted, “It’s a tight group, and they’re always going to come down to it (last games). Most of us have been in this situation before, and it’s an opportunity for us to do it again.”
As the Cymru team prepares to face Armenia and Turkey, the nation holds its breath, hopeful that the Dragons will once again defy the odds and secure their place in Euro 2024, adding another chapter to their storied football legacy. Yma O Hyd – still here, and stronger than ever.