James targets Euros after dream win over Croatia

6 months ago 151
Wales' Jordan James wins a header against Croatia's Luka ModricJordan James (left) was making only his sixth appearance for Wales when they beat Croatia
Venue: Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium, Yerevan Date: Saturday, 18 November Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds, BBC Sport website and app, plus live text
Highlights: Match of the Day Wales, BBC One Wales from 22: 45 GMT and later on demand

Jordan James hopes Wales can seal Euro 2024 qualification after reviving their campaign with a win over Croatia the teenage midfielder described as the best night of his life.

That result means Wales can qualify for Euro 2024 if they beat Armenia and Turkey in their final two games.

"I don't think it gets much better than that," James said of the Croatia win.

"But we've still got a job to do. On paper, that was the toughest game in the group, but we're not going to take the next two games lightly.

"We know what it means to the country to get to these big tournaments, so that's our focus and hopefully we can do that.

"It [the win over Croatia] was probably the best night of my life.

"Seeing my family in the crowd and how proud they were, it was a massive win for the country. Hopefully we can do the same in the next two games."

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Wales' qualifying campaign threatened to come off the rails when they suffered back-to-back defeats against Armenia and Turkey in June.

However, Robert Page's men recovered with victories over Latvia and Croatia in September and October to leave their destiny in their own hands.

Win in Armenia on Saturday and at home to Turkey next Tuesday and Wales will seal their place at Euro 2024, reaching a fourth major tournament out of five.

James will have an important role to play in those final two matches, having quickly established himself in the team.

The Birmingham City player only made his first international start during September's friendly draw with South Korea but impressed Page to such an extent that he kept his place for that month's qualifier in Latvia.

James continued in midfield for the stunning victory over Croatia, whose midfield three was comprised of Real Madrid playmaker Modric as well as Manchester City's Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan.

"It's been brilliant. All I've ever wanted to do is to play for my country," said James.

"That's massive trust from the gaffer at such a young age. Playing for your country, there is a risk but he took it and I'm just trying to repay him for what he's done for me."

James can expect to start in Armenia on Saturday, alongside Ethan Ampadu who, despite being only 23, is just three appearances away from reaching 50 caps for Wales.

"As soon as I played with him the first time, we just clicked," said James.

"I see him as a leader and I'm someone who studies him and how he plays because he's somewhere I want to get to.

"I could see him being captain one day.

"He's that high in my regard and I love playing with him. I feel so confident playing with him and we just bounce off each other."

Saturday's game in Armenia will have added significance for Wales, who will be eager to avenge their shock 4-2 defeat at home against the same opponents in June.

"There is a bit of revenge there," said James, who did not start on that occasion.

"You don't like losing. We're athletes, we want to compete and we don't like losing against any team. It's not nice and we want to get back with them.

"But we know we've got a job to do. We want to focus on that, get it done, and then focus on Turkey."

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