Thursday 12 December 2019

Coleman: Wales would have drawn against Andorra last season

Wales' Manager Chris Coleman during a press conference at the the Camp d'Esports del M.I. Consell General, Andorra le Vella, Andorra
Wales' Manager Chris Coleman during a press conference at the the Camp d'Esports del M.I. Consell General, Andorra le Vella, Andorra

Wales manager Chris Coleman believes the late Andorra escape proves his side possess the maturity to mount a successful Euro 2016 campaign.

Gareth Bale's brilliance eventually put paid to minnows ranked 199th in the world, with the Real Madrid star scoring twice in a 2-1 win which leaves Wales in good shape heading into next month's home qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus.

And Coleman is already eyeing a six-point advantage over Bosnia who suffered a shock 2-1 home defeat to Cyprus on Tuesday night.

Andorra had stunned Wales by taking the lead with their first goal in competitive football for four years, and Coleman said: "If this was the last campaign I think we would have drawn this game.

"Our heads would have dropped and we would have got disillusioned, but we've matured as a team.

"We showed that here and we've got to take that into the next game because with the right result against Bosnia there's a gap there between us and them - six points.

"Bosnia and Belgium are strongly fancied one and two but that's not how we see it and Cyprus have also sent out a statement by winning.

"We know we can win games and we've lost one in six, and that was to Holland after a good performance.

"The boys are doing well, we're high in the rankings and now we've won our first qualifier."

Yet Coleman was in the firing line until Bale, who he later put on a par with Argentina's Lionel Messi, produced another wonderful solo show which deprived Andorra of their first competitive win for 10 years and their first-ever European Championship point.

"You're looking at your watch and thinking it's not the night to have one of those nights," Coleman said.

"We've come to a place where we're expected to win easy and you're always hoping and praying when you've got someone on the pitch like Baley.

"Five minutes before (the Andorra goal) the crowd were asking me to give them a wave and then they're telling me to sort it out.

"That's how quickly it can change. But I'm than happy for them to vent their frustrations at me and stand behind the players."

Coleman praised his players for standing up to a physical Andorra side on an artificial-grass 3G surface which he said did not meet the standard required for a European Championship qualifier.

It remains to be seen whether the Football Association of Wales will make an official protest about the pitch, although the Welsh could be in trouble with UEFA themselves following the mini-pitch invasion from supporters after Bale's winner in the closing stages.

"I want the other teams to come here and play on this pitch," Coleman said.

"When we trained on it, my heart sank. In my opinion it is not up to the standard of a UEFA qualifier.

"The best thing is we won the game and we don't have to come back here and play on a 3G pitch.

"Andorra did what they had to do to try and get a result and I was angry with some of the things they did.

"But I don't blame Andorra for playing way they did, and if they play all their games here like that then I think they'll get a positive result somewhere along the way."

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Online Editors

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport