Live Match Hub: Cymru vs Bulgaria
International
4 September 2020

Live Match Hub: Cymru vs Bulgaria

NECO THE HEADLINE MAKER

07 September 202011:29am

Neco Williams was front page news this morning following his winning goal in the UEFA Nations League match against Bulgaria in Cardiff on Sunday.

The Liverpool teenager came off the bench for only his second senior team appearance for his country and scored the only goal of the game deep into injury-time to seal a fourth consecutive victory for Ryan Giggs' side.

The talented and versatile defender only made his international debut a few days before as Cymru defeated Finland by the same scoreline in Helsinki.

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NECO THE HERO FOR CYMRU

06 September 20204:12pm

A late, late winner from teenager Neco Williams earned Cymru another valuable win in the UEFA Nations League as he scored the only goal of the game against Bulgaria in Cardiff on Sunday.

Cymru are now undefeated in eight games, and have not only won the last four, but have not conceded a single goal in the process. Ryan Giggs praised his squad for their performance over the course of this almost surreal international break, and plans now start for the October triple-header.

Here are the current standings in League B Group 4 of the UEFA Nations League.

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PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

05 September 20205:31pm

The Cymru squad had their final training session earlier today ahead of the UEFA Nations League match against Bulgaria in Cardiff on Sunday.

Despite a couple of players picking up knocks during the victory over Finland, manager Ryan Giggs confirmed that there are no injury concerns and that all his players are available for selection. David Brooks returned to the squad yesterday and is expected to play some part in the match having recovered from his recent injury.

Here are a few images from training earlier today.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROB!

05 September 20205:08pm

Cymru assistant coach Rob Page enjoyed a belated birthday celebration when the squad returned from Helsinki on Friday.

The former U21 boss turned 46 on the same day as the UEFA Nations League victory over Finland, with Kieffer Moore's only goal delivering the perfect present of three points for the former Cymru defender.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS - CYMRU v BULGARIA

05 September 202011:02am

In the second part of our feature on previous meetings between Cymru and Bulgaria, Bulgarian football journalist Stoyan Georgiev reflects on the fixtures between the two nations during the 1990's.

"There is no doubt that 1994 is the greatest year for Bulgarian football as the side reached the semi-final of the FIFA World Cup in the United States. The golden generation, lead by the greatest-ever Bulgarian player in Hristo Stoichkov, continued their exploits in the EURO 96 qualifiers and the last game for the year was a visit to Wales. At that time the English Premier League had already started to gain a huge following in the country and players like Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Dean Saunders, Neville Southall and the emergence of Ryan Giggs and Gary Speed were well known, but the talk before the game Cardiff Arms Park was about a certain Vinnie Jones. He received his first call-up for Wales for this game, and as expected, the hard man and future movie star kicked Stoichkov, Balakov and co from the start.

The Bulgarians were not impressed with his antics. Jones entered the stadium with a big cassette recorder on his shoulders with the volume on max, but on the pitch it was the visitors that played the music. The late Trifon Ivanov opened the score with a thunderous volley, and Emil Kostadinov made it 2-0 before the break. The Lions were in total control against the stars of the English Premier League, and Stoichkov made it 3-0 soon after the restart. Five days later, Stoichkov received the greatest honour for a football as he was awarded the Ballon d'Or.

The second game in Sofia was on 29 March 1995, and there was again snow in Bulgarian capital. Having not featured in Cardiff, this time Giggs started alongside Saunders and John Hartson, but on his 29th birthday it was meant for Balakov to score with an absolute long range beauty. Then Lubo Penev added two goals, while Saunders scored Wales' only goal. Although 1994 is the most successful year for Bulgaria, probably the overall performances of the team after that were even better because of the tremendous confidence and the winning mentality. Also, Penev was back in the team having missed the World Cup because of testicular cancer surgery. Two months later, Bulgaria defeated Germany 3-2 after going 2-0 down. This should be considered the finest ever performance by the team. One year later Germany won EURO 96, while Bulgaria's decline started in the second half of 1995."

INJURY FOR BULGARIA CAPTAIN ZANEV

05 September 202010:31am

Bulgaria are reported to be without captan Petar Zanev for the UEFA Nations League match against Cymru in Cardiff on Sunday afternoon.

The 34-year old veteran of the side was injured during the 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland in Sofia on Thursday evening, and midfielder Georgi Kostadinov is expected to take over the armband. Zanev is the most-experienced player in the current Bulgaria squad having made 44 appearances for his country.

GIGGS BACK ON THE TRAINING GROUND

04 September 202012:32pm

Despite only arriving back from Helsinki in the early hours, Cymru manager Ryan Giggs was back on the training ground on Friday morning.

Overseeing a training and recovery session with the players that didn't start against Finland on Thursday night, Giggs also used the opportunity to welcome David Brooks back to the squad following his recovery from injury.

Here are a couple of images from this morning.

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LAST TIME IN CARDIFF

04 September 202012:28pm

Cymru return to the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday for the first time since that memorable night in November when qualification for EURO 2020 was achieved.

The 2-0 win over Hungary in the final match of the campaign will be remembered for the incredible and emotional atmosphere created by the 'Red Wall'. Sadly, it will be a very different occasion against Bulgaria on Sunday, with the match being played behind closed doors.

Click the video below and take yourself back to that amazing night in Cardiff.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS - CYMRU v BULGARIA

04 September 202012:20pm

Cymru and Bulgaria have played each other eight times previously, with Bulgaria having the slight statistical advantage having won four to Cymru's three. The only draw between the two nations took place at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea back in August 2006.

Current Cymru manager Ryan Giggs only played against Bulgaria twice in his international career. Giggs was part of the side that lost 3-1 in Sofia in March 1995, and he also played in the 0-0 friendly draw in Swansea. The first meetings between Cymru and Bulgaria were part of a memorable EURO 1984 qualifying campaign. Bulgarian football journalist Stoyan Georgiev explains to FAW.cymru the events that left the group very much in the balance right up until the final moments.

"Bulgaria and Wales had to wait until 1983 to finally meet each other. It was worth the wait. In one of the most thrilling qualifying campaigns in international football ever, both Bulgaria and Wales touched and then missed the finals in France in the dying seconds of the last game of the whole campaign.

The line up in Group 4 also included Norway and Yugoslavia. The first jewel was the game between Yugoslavia and Wales in Titograd that ended 4-4 in December 1982. Then the Dragons won 1-0 at home against Bulgaria and took poll position in the group. Jeremy Charles scored the goal after a goalmouth scramble. Bulgaria started the campaign slowly, but under Ivan Vutsov the team gradually found their rhythm, and in the autumn of 1983 got back in contention with a 2-1 win at Norway.

Then on 16 November in Sofia, Bulgaria hosted Wales for a first time ever. A cold evening, with snow in the stands and a frozen pitch, but both side gave it their all. The game at Vasil Levski stadium was a real battle under severe conditions and was a mirror image of the game at Racecourse Ground half a year earlier. Ian Rush hit the woodwork for Wales, while substitute Rusi Gochev then got the winner soon after the break after another goalmouth scramble. That was Gochev's finest moment for the national team.

A month later Wales missed a real chance to win the group with a 0-0 home draw against Yugoslavia, which was their last qualifying game. The Dragons were still top of the table with 7 points from 6 games, but the last game in the group was a week later on 21 December in Split between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. A draw there would send Wales to the finals, while whoever won between those two neighbouring countries would qualify.

With the score at 2-2, I'm sure the whole of Wales was ready to open the champagne. It was real kamikaze football at Poljud stadium with both teams looking for the winner. Suddenly, in the last minute, Bulgaria got its moment with three players against one defender in the penalty box. Radoslav Zdravkov elegantly passed through the solitary defender and he and his two team mates were alone against the goalkeeper. He chose the only wrong option and his weak shot was saved.

This is still the biggest miss in the history of the national team., just watch it on YouTube. But this was not the end, and there were still 10 seconds left for more drama. In the following counter attack, the visitors were still in shock of Zdravkov's impossible miss, and Yugoslavia took their chance as Radanovic headed the ball into the net behind the helpless Mihaylov. It finished 3-2 and Yugoslavia qualified for the finals in France, while Bulgaria and Wales were left in tears. Triumph and agony went in all three directions in the space of 15 seconds. That is the pain, but also the beauty of the game."

CONGRATULATIONS WAYNE

04 September 202011:56am

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey made his 90th appearance for Cymru on Thursday, and kept his 35th clean sheet in the 1-0 victory over Finland.

The Crystal Palace shot-stopper eclipsed the previous record of 34 clean sheets held by Neville Southall, who made 92 appearances for Cymru during his playing career between 1982 and 1997. Gareth Bale was among the first to take to social media and congratulate him on his achievement.

Hennessey made his senior Cymru debut against New Zealand back in May 2007. Current Cymru manager Ryan Giggs also played in the 2-2 friendly draw.

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MEET THE REF

04 September 202011:50am

Portuguese referee Fabio Verissimo will take charge of the UEFA Nations League fixture between Cymru and Bulgaria in Cardiff on Sunday.

The 37-year old has been a FIFA official since 2015, with one of his first international appointments being the match between Luxembourg U21 and Cymru U21 in September that year. Last season, Verissimo refereed fixtures in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League, together with the EURO 2020 qualifier between between Estonia and Northern Ireland.

Verissimo has referred in the Portuguese top division since 2014, and has taken charge of almost 100 games in Liga Nos. He will be assisted on Sunday by Luis Campos and Pedro Nuno De Sá Martins, while Antonio Emanuel Carvalho Nobre is the 4th official. All of the match officials are from Portugal.

LEAGUE B GROUP 4 SITUATION

04 September 202011:41am

Cymru went straight to the top of their UEFA Nations League group on Thursday with the 1-0 win over Finland in Helsinki.

Ryan Giggs' side now face a different challenge in the shape of Bulgaria and their veteran manager Georgi Dermendzhiev. Bulgaria conceded a late equaliser against the Republic of Ireland in Sofia on Thursday as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw.

Here is the current League B Group 4 table ahead of Sunday's fixtures between Cymru and Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland and Finland.

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Follow live updates from the Cymru camp as Ryan Giggs prepares his squad for a UEFA Nations League match against Bulgaria (6 September) in Cardiff.

This page will updated regularly so please keep checking back for the very latest information.