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Connor Roberts desperate for more Wales fans to return to stadiums

Connor Roberts desperate for more Wales fans to return to stadiums
© Reuters
The Dragons are on the brink of qualifying for the last 16 of Euro 2020 after picking up four points from two games.

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.

SOCCER Wales
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."

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Italy head coach Roberto Mancini pictured on June 4, 2021
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United StatesUnited States23272070
JapanJapan1961136
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events


DIVING
· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

ATHLETICS
· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

SAILING
· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

FOOTBALL
· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

CYCLING
· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

BOXING
· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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