Wales boss Chris Coleman has urged his side to brush off the notion of fear and stand up for their identity when they face Portugal on Wednesday for a place in the final of Euro 2016.
Coleman’s side booked their place in the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time following a 3-1 victory over Belgium, a team ranked second in world governing body Fifa’s official rankings, on Friday night.
But despite tomorrow’s showdown representing Wales’s biggest match since their World Cup quarter-final defeat by Brazil in 1958, Coleman has demanded his players show an unrelenting self-belief.
“It’s new territory. You will either be blinded by the lights and crawl back to where you came from, or have belief in yourself and stand up for your identity,” said Coleman.
“We were excited about coming to see where we are and what we’re capable of. The message has been the same. What is fear? To me, fear is put into people from outside influences.
“You spend too much time thinking about what you don’t want to happen rather than concentrating on what you want to happen. The message has been no fear, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Wales will be without suspended duo Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies for the Portugal clash, a match which pitches the world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale against Real Madrid team-mate and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Coleman has backed Wales to cope with the absentees. He added: “They are two outstanding players, but it’s not like we haven’t been without them before. I have no worries about whoever steps in.
“I don’t worry about these players because they know the drill, what’s expected of them, the game plan, that won’t change. They will give their best. We want to do what we can for Wales.”