The winners will also be of keen interest to supporters of Steve Clarke’s side too – they will lie in wait for the winners of the delayed Scotland v Ukraine fixture, which has been moved to June.
There is a lot of uncertainty over the truncated play-off fixtures after Ukraine successfully requested tonight’s match at Hampden be postponed due to the ongoing Russian invasion of their country. Wales and Austria elected to go ahead with their corresponding semi-final and take the first step to Qatar so the winner will be included in the World Cup Finals draw on April 1 – alongside Scotland and Ukraine in the position yet to be filled.
Whether or not they make it depends firstly on the outcome of this evening’s match and then the play-off final against either Scotland or Ukraine but both Rob Page and Franco Foda will be seeking a little more certainty and at least participation in the draw, if not the tournament itself, with a win tonight.
Wales have not featured at a World Cup since 1958 in Sweden – their only appearance at the Finals to date.
Here’s what you need to know tonight...
Who: Wales v Austria
What: UEFA Qualification: Play-off
Where: Cardiff City Stadium, Wales
When: 7.45pm, Thursday March 24, 2022
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
How to watch
Sky Sports have held the broadcast rights to the UEFA qualification internationals throughout the campaign but they won’t be the only ones showing Wales this evening.
The broadcaster has pledged to make events of national significance free to air – which could apply to Scotland’s play-off bid if Steve Clarke’s side see off Ukraine's challenge in June.
Tonight’s match in Cardiff will be shown on terrestrial channel S4C (Sky 134/Virgin 166) for those without a subscription, and also on Sky Sports Main Event (Virgin 501/Sky 401).
Former Aberdeen golkeeper Danny Ward withdrew from the Welsh squad meaning Wayne Hennessey is likely to be in goal for the home side.
Rangers’ loan midfielder Aaron Ramsey is expected to feature too, despite a lack of game time in the SPFL since nhis move from Juventus – the Welshman did complete 90 minutes in the win over Dundee last weekend.
For Austria, part of Scotland’s qualifying campaign but in the play-offs via the Nations League, ex-Kilmarnock goalie Daniel Bachmann is expected to feature, as is talisman Marko Arnautovic.
Austria hold the upper-hand overall, having won half of the ten previous meetings between the sides. However Wales are three games unbeaten and won home games in 2013 and 2017 and drew 2-2 in Vienna the year prior.
Scotland will play the losing play-off semi-finalists next week, away from home.
This was always the for the losers to host a friendly, but opposition dependent on the outcome of Scotland v Ukraine which had expected to send the winners to the play-off final on Tuesday. But, as Ukraine are unable to compete in this current tranche of internationals, Scotland will fulfil the fixture regardless – and of course could meet the winning semi-finalists if they can win against Ukraine in June’s rescheduled match.