Wales’ qualification for the 2022 World Cup ended a 64-year wait for their return to the biggest stage in international football.
Rob Page will lead Wales in Qatar on the back of the country’s most successful return in competition football during the last eight years.
Under Chris Coleman, Wales stormed to the semi finals of Euro 2016, before reaching the last 16 of Euro 2020, under Page’s interim leadership.
However, a World Cup return is a different prospect for Page and his squad as they aim to emulate John Charles and co from 1958.
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) November 9, 2022
Wales World Cup squad 2022
Page has harnessed a club-side mentality during his time in charge of Wales with the former defender named as Ryan Giggs’ permanent replacement in June.
As such, there are few big surprises within his final 26-man group for Qatar 2022, which contains several stars of the past decade.
Gareth Bale is, of course, the headline inclusion, with Page insisting he had no concerns about the MLS star’s fitness.
Established stars such as Wayne Hennessey, Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey, Dan James, Chris Gunter and Ben Davies are all included. There are promising younger players, too, such as Harry Wilson, Ethan Ampadu and Brennan Johnson.
|Position||Player||Club||Age||Caps||2022 World Cup
|Goalkeeper||Wayne Hennessey||Nottingham Forest (ENG)||35||106||3|
|Goalkeeper||Danny Ward||Leicester City (ENG)||29||26||8|
|Goalkeeper||Adam Davies||Sheffield United (ENG)||30||3||0|
|Defender||Ethan Ampadu||Spezia (ITA)||22||37||8|
|Defender||Chris Mepham||Bournemouth (ENG)||24||33||8|
|Defender||Ben Davies||Tottenham (SCO)||29||74||6|
|Defender||Chris Gunter||Wimbledon (ENG)||33||109||4|
|Defender||Connor Roberts||Burnley (ENG)||27||41||8|
|Defender||Joe Rodon||Rennes (FRA)||24||30||8|
|Defender||Neco Williams||Nottingham Forest (ENG)||21||23||7|
|Defender||Ben Cabango||Swansea City (WAL)||22||5||0|
|Defender||Tom Lockyer||Luton Town (ENG)||27||14||0|
|Midfielder||Joe Allen||Swansea City (WAL)||32||72||9|
|Midfielder||Aaron Ramsey||Nice (FRA)||31||75||6|
|Midfielder||Harry Wilson||Fulham (ENG)||25||39||8|
|Midfielder||Jonny Williams||Swindon Town (ENG)||29||33||3|
|Midfielder||Joe Morrell||Portsmouth (ENG)||25||30||8|
|Midfielder||Matthew Smith||MK Dons (ENG)||22||19||0|
|Midfielder||Dylan Levitt||Dundee United (So)||21||13||0|
|Midfielder||Ruben Colwill||Swansea City (ENG)||20||7||1|
|Midfielder||Sorba Thomas||Huddersfield Town (ENG)||23||6||2|
|Forward||Gareth Bale||Los Angeles FC (USA)||33||108||7|
|Forward||Daniel James||Fulham (ENG)||24||38||10|
|Forward||Kieffer Moore||Bournemouth (ENG)||30||28||6|
|Forward||Brennan Johnson||Nottingham Forest (ENG)||21||15||6|
|Forward||Mark Harris||Cardiff City (WAL)||23||5||3|
Wales best players, strengths and weaknesses
Much of Page’s final squad comprises players who helped Wales to qualify for Euro 2016 and Euro 2020.
However, there is some younger talent in this latest group who could make a name for themselves in Qatar in the coming weeks.
Gareth Bale is the headline act for Wales, although the fact he started just twice for LAFC in the 2022 MLS season will be something of a concern, with Page apparently uncertain just how fit the 33-year-old forward will be.
Aaron Ramsey generally reserves his best performances for his country these days, and his experience of major tournaments will be a boost to the likes of promising attacking midfielder Harry Wilson and Leeds United winger Dan James.
At the back, Ben Davies of Tottenham Hotspur and 33-year-old Chris Gunter have plenty of nous, as does goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, who has made more than 100 appearances for his country.
There is a resilience about Wales that makes them a tough nut to crack. They went unbeaten in Group E in World Cup qualifying after losing their opening match to Belgium, taking four points off Euro 2020 semifinalists Czech Republic. They then showed great spirit to overcome Austria and Ukraine in the playoffs.
Then, of course, there’s Bale — the man who scored all three goals as they navigated the playoff round successfully. The former Real Madrid star is a genuine inspiration when he plays for his country.
Well, conversely, a reliance on Bale.
Wales scored 17 goals in their 10 qualifying matches across Group E and the playoffs, and Bale was responsible for six of them. Aaron Ramsey, who is not the player he once was, scored three.
The pressing question for Wales is: if Bale is not fully sharp, and Ramsey’s best days are behind him, where will the goals come from at these finals?
MORE: FIFA World Cup: Which teams have qualified to Qatar 2022? Full list of all 32 nations
WORLD CUP 2022 SELECTED SQUADS:
Australia | Argentina | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon
Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | England
France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico
Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Senegal
Serbia | Spain | Switzerland | Uruguay | USA | Wales
Wales World Cup group
Wales are up against familiar foes in England in Group B, with Iran and USA also in that pool.
If England match pre-tournament expectations, they will top the group with little problem, meaning Page’s men are likely to be in a straight shoot-out with the USMNT for second spot.
Wales Group F fixtures and match schedule
|Mon, Nov. 21||USA vs. Wales||2 p.m.||Al Rayyan|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Wales vs. Iran||5 a.m.||Al Rayyan|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Wales vs. England||2 p.m.||Al Rayyan|
Can Wales replace players on the World Cup roster?
Once the final 26-man roster is official, participating teams at the World Cup can only make changes before the first game of the tournament, and only in the case of extraordinary circumstances.
According to the official tournament rules, “a player listed on the final list may only be replaced in the event of serious injury or illness up until 24 hours before the start of his team’s first match.”
The team in question would need to submit a medical report to FIFA and if the world governing body determines “the injury or illness is sufficiently serious to prevent the player from taking part in the FIFA World Cup” then the replacement will be allowed.
The replacement player must come from the preliminary list of players submitted to FIFA in October.