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Kieffer Moore: ‘He’s not just a presence up top, he’s more than that’

He is not exactly a secret weapon – good luck trying to hide that muscular 6ft 5in frame – but there was a sense that Wales had been keeping Kieffer Moore up their sleeves all along.

The Cardiff City striker, who has never played club football higher than the Championship, has taken to international life with a flourish. A former lifeguard whose footballing apprenticeship was served in non-league, Moore became an instant cult hero among Wales fans.

Now, having scored the goal to salvage a point in Wales’ opening game of Euro 2020, there is no hint of irony about his lofty status. The 28-year-old’s header against Switzerland was his sixth goal in 18 international appearances.

But his place in the team was in doubt coming into this tournament.

Moore had only started two of Wales’ previous eight games, with interim manager Robert Page preferring a three-man attack without a recognised centre-forward.

Throughout the build-up to Saturday’s match against Switzerland, Page said he had decided on his side weeks ago. No Moore then, a disappointed Welsh fanbase had concluded – until the team in Baku was announced.

“I know we’ve played with a false nine before and had success but that’s good from our point of view that we don’t have to rely on Kieffer to get us up the pitch,” Page said after the game.

“If he’s fit and playing well, brilliant, he gives us a bit more than physicality.

“But we also have the option, if we wanted to change it, to go three at the back against different opposition and play a Harry Wilson-type forward as opposed to Kieffer with presence. We’ve got the options and flexibility to do that, which is great.”

Moore’s inclusion was met with near total approval among supporters and pundits, and he was close to justifying Page’s decision within 15 minutes when his header destined for the top corner was superbly saved by Yann Sommer.

Service was scarce for Moore for the following hour but, when his next chance arrived courtesy of a short corner and an expertly placed cross from Joe Morrell, the Cardiff striker glanced a header beyond Sommer and into the bottom corner.

“It’s great personally. We’d have liked to win but we’ll take a draw to put us in a good position,” said Moore.

“This is a big occasion and I’ve loved every second of it.”

‘He had rations’ – the ex-strikers’ view

Given Wales’ paucity of scoring opportunities, Moore had to be at his clinical best in Baku, the kind of ruthlessness which helped him score 20 Championship goals for Cardiff this season.

“I thought Kieffer Moore played really well. He had rations to be honest,” Mark Hughes, Wales’ former forward and manager said on BBC One.

“But you only need one decent ball into the box and when you have someone with that aerial ability you would back him to score.”

Hal Robson-Kanu, who scored arguably Wales’ greatest ever goal in their Euro 2016 quarter-final win over Belgium, agreed and said: “Kieffer was isolated for most of the game but it was a moment like that that we knew he could make a difference.”

Given his imposing build, it may not come as a surprise that Moore is a potent threat in the air – but he is more than a mere physical outlet up front.

He is technically adept, a link man between attack and midfield who has scored with intricate back-heels as well as more straightforward finishes.

“I’ve been very impressed with Kieffer throughout his time in international football,” said Page.

“Maybe three years ago when I watched him for the first time, I thought his link-up play was excellent.

“He’s not just a presence up top, he’s more than that. He’s got a good touch for a big lad and he’s a willing runner.

“When you’ve got those attributes, it’s going to be a recipe for success and he thoroughly deserved his goal.”

Although Page insisted before the Switzerland match there was “no debate” whether or not Moore should start, there is still no guarantee he will keep his place for Wednesday’s match with Turkey.

“I’m pleased with performance but that doesn’t mean it will be the same on Wednesday,” Page said.

The Wales boss showed before the Switzerland draw that he had a decent poker face. Whether Moore starts or only features as a substitute against Turkey, Page will not show his hand.

Sourced From BBC

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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