Wales will play in China Cup

Reporter:

Nick Harrison

Wales  will play in the 2018 China Cup alongside the tournament hosts, Uruguay and the Czech Republic.

The line-up was announced at a Beijing press conference and the four-team competition will be held in the southern Chinese city of Nanning next March.

"In the 2018 China Cup the three visitors are Uruguay, Wales and the Czech Republic," the Chinese Football Association said on their official website.

"The Welsh national team has always had some of the world's top players."

Wales will hope that Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey will be available for the tournament which will be played from March 19-27.

The tournament falls within FIFA's scheduled international window, but some of the major European clubs might not be keen on their players making the 12,000-mile round trip to China at such a crucial stage of the season.

But Chris Coleman, speaking last week about the prospect of Wales playing in the tournament, felt being invited to the China Cup was a coup for the Euro 2016 semi-finalists.

"I think it's very positive," Wales manager Coleman said.

"We would never have been asked to be involved in something like that three or four years ago, but now we're being asked to go to a mini-tournament against some really good teams."

Wales would be guaranteed two games in Nanning, which is known as the 'Green City' of China because of its abundance of tropical foliage and is around 100 miles from the Vietnam border.

World Cup-bound Uruguay are expected to include Barcelona striker Luis Suarez and Paris St Germain forward Edinson Cavani.

Like Wales, the Czech Republic and China - who are managed by former World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi - missed out on qualifying for next summer's finals in Russia.

Chile overcame Iceland to win the inaugural tournament in January 2017, while China beat Croatia in the third-place play-off.

Email:

nick.harrison@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Leader

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