Wales ready for Belgians says Chris Coleman
7:50pm Monday 28th May 2012 in Wales football
WALES manager Chris Coleman believes the 2-0 defeat to Mexico will stand his side in good stead when their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign gets under way against Belgium in September.
The Dragons were defeated by two Aldo De Nigris goals in New Jersey on Sunday as they struggled with the oppressive heat and humidity of the mid-afternoon kick-off and the lifeless playing surface at the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL teams.
With the fixture coming at the end of a long season and the likes of Gareth Bale, Joe Ledley, Darcy Blake and Wayne Hennessey all sidelined by injury, it was always likely to be a game too far for Wales.
But progress over the course of the season has been encouraging, with a rise from 117th to 41st in the FIFA world rankings raising hopes that Wales can challenge for a spot at the next World Cup, despite the death of previous manager Gary Speed in November.
Coleman now has just the August friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina to hone his preparations ahead of their meeting with Belgium in their Group A opener on September 7.
And he believes whatever the likes of Eden Hazard, Thomas Vermaelen and Marouane Fellaini can throw at his side, it will not prove a more difficult challenge than facing the Mexicans.
He said: “It was disappointing to lose my first game in charge but we knew it would be tough.
“We don't like to lose but we can take a lot from this week. The lads have trained well and we have a lot of young guys in the squad.
“Belgium are a good team but they won't be any better than Mexico.
“Belgium are a very good side, no disrespect to them, but we wanted this game as Mexico are one of the top teams, they are in the top 20 in the world. We knew it would be tough and they did not disappoint us.”
Due to the number of absentees the likes of goalkeeper Jason Brown, midfielders Hal Robson-Kanu and David Edwards all started, while Newport-born Chris Gunter was pressed into action as a makeshift centre-half.
And Coleman had nothing but praise for the manner in which his injury-hit squad had approached the game.
“They acquitted themselves very well. Even if we had gone into this game with our strongest team we would still have had a tough game on our hands,” he said.
“As it was we were missing Gareth Bale, Joe Ledley, Wayne Hennessey, Darcy Blake, David Vaughan and Andrew Crofts and we could not even call on our number two keeper in Boaz Myhill.
“But I am not making excuses because we lost. The guys who came in did a really good job.
“We got forward a couple of times but couldn't find that last pass as guys were so tired.”