WALES legend Ian Rush is backing John Toshack’s young guns to give Germany a shock in tonight’s European Championship qualifier tonight.
The triple World Cup-winners arrived in Cardiff as runaway leaders of Group D, with six wins and a draw from their seven matches to date, but the former Liverpool and Wales goal ace said he had been impressed by recent Welsh performances.
Toshack’s side are defending a four-match unbeaten run this evening and although Germany will be overwhelming favourites to win, Rush sees grounds for optimism.
“I think it’s important for Welsh football that we see a good performance from the team,” he said.
“Obviously Germany are the favourites, but it would give everyone a huge lift if Wales were to cause a shock and either win or get a draw, which is something I think is a real possibility.
“It’s a young side but this could be the occasion that they come of age and there’s no better place for that to happen than at the Millennium Stadium.
“The danger is that the occasion could get to some of them and were that to happen the Germans will punish them. But Wales are going into the game on a decent run of form and they set themselves the standard in the previous game against the Czech Republic, which they were unlucky not to win.
“In Bulgaria last month they had a great result with Freddy Eastwood getting the goal and then we saw a fantastic performance from Wayne Hennessey in goal.”
Rush, the last Wales player to score the winner against a German side in a competitive match back in 1991, compared that goal to Eastwood’s strike in Bourgas.
“Wales defended superbly in the second half in Bulgaria because we had the lead to hang on to,” he added. “In the game I played and scored in, we worked hard as a team, we defended well and Neville Southall was superb in goal.
“In that side we had myself, Mark Hughes and Dean Saunders who were always capable of getting a goal for the team to defend and with Freddy now in the Wales set-up, Toshack’s players will be thinking the same way.
“It makes a massive difference in terms of confidence and belief and, while it’s going to be a very difficult game, nothing is impossible.
“And if the crowd really get behind Wales, that will also make a big difference. If this team were to repeat what we did in 1991, the group would be blown wide open.”
Rush was yesterday named as elite performance director of the Welsh Football Trust.
His part-time position will see him help out with coaching the under-16 regional and national development squads while also undertaking promotional work for the Trust.
“I am delighted to be joining the Trust in this exciting new role and to have the opportunity to give something back to the game,” said Rush.
“To be successful on the international stage in the future Wales must produce better players through well-structured development programmes and high-quality coaching.
“I believe the Trust is on track to achieve this and I hope to play my part in helping them to deliver their vital work for Welsh Football.”
Rush added: “I’m grateful to (former Reds manager) Gerard Houllier who I worked for at Liverpool and who advised me about taking this job. He has been a big help.”