Connor Roberts hopes more Wales fans can attend games as team moves on from Baku

·3 min read

Connor Roberts hopes more Wales fans will get the opportunity to support Gareth Bale and company at Euro 2020 after their trip to Azerbaijan.

The Wales squad headed to Rome on Friday for their final Group A fixture against Italy after an 11-day stop in Baku, which has seen them play their opening two matches of the tournament 3,000 miles from home.

Fans were advised by the Welsh Government not to travel to Baku, with Azerbaijan on their coronavirus ‘amber list’ and quarantine regulations in place on their return home.

Azerbaijan Turkey Wales Euro 2020 Soccer
Wales players salute the few hundred fans who made the long journey to Azerbaijan for their opening two games at Euro 2020 (Naomi Baker/AP)

A few hundred hardy fans did make the long journey to see Wales pick up four points against Switzerland and Turkey, results which have left Robert Page’s squad on the brink of last-16 qualification before Sunday’s meeting against group leaders Italy.

“Hopefully we can get as far in the competition as possible,” said Swansea defender Roberts, who scored in the final seconds against Turkey on Wednesday to seal a 2-0 win.

“Maybe we can get more and more fans to get to the games to support us.

“It’s one thing supporting from home but to be there experiencing it is another thing.”

Ending Italy’s unbeaten 29-match run at the Stadio Olimpico would see Wales top their group.

That would set up a last-16 tie at Wembley – with around 40,000 fans allowed – against the runners-up in Group C, most likely Austria or Ukraine.

The more likely scenario, however, is that Wales finish behind Italy and head for Amsterdam to meet Group B’s runners-up – probably Denmark, Finland or Russia.

The Johan Cruyff Arena hosted 12,000 fans for Holland’s group game with Ukraine on Thursday.

PA Graphics

Wales could also qualify as a best third-placed team with Bucharest, Glasgow and Seville as potential venues for a last-16 tie.

The Dragons would return to Baku for a quarter-final by winning in Amsterdam.

Roberts told BBC Wales: “If you offered that to me now of course I would (take it).

“I think being here (Baku) compared to Scotland, England and most teams, they have all been close to home and have been able to get fans there.

“We have been halfway around the world and only had a couple of hundred fans because it’s so hard for them to get here.

“Well done to those who were there the other night. It is something that they will cherish forever, only a small handful and they were there on one of the good nights.”

On Wales’ stay in Baku, where temperatures have regularly exceeded 30 degrees on Europe’s eastern edge, Roberts said: “I think the hotel and the training facilities, and even the stadium, have been unbelievable over here.

Azerbaijan Daily Life
Azerbaijan’s capital Baku has been Wales’ Euro 2020 home for 11 days (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

“It’s just a shame that more fans could not have come over and supported us.

“We’ve got a massive test now (against Italy) but we’ve played good teams in the past and done well.

“I think for little old Wales to be here is an achievement in itself, for every game we play to do all right or to win is just a bonus.

“We go there with no fear and see if we can do something special.”