Coleman: Wales must hit ground running
CHRIS Coleman admits Wales must learn to become fast starters if they are to end their long wait to secure a place at a major finals.
Another fruitless qualification campaign drew to a close on Tuesday with a hard-earned 1-1 draw with Group A winners Belgium in Brussels, which came far too little, too late in terms of Welsh World Cup aspirations.
Wales last reached a major tournament in 1958, but an expanded European Championship in 2016 gives them a greater chance of ending what will by then have been a 58-year absence.
There was further encouragement in the manner in which a squad decimated by injury stood up to be counted for under-fire boss Coleman in Brussels and in Friday’s win over Macedonia in Cardiff.
The point in Brussels, courtesy of Aaron Ramsey’s late equaliser and several vital saves from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, marked the first time Wales had taken points from consecutive competitive fixtures since the final two games of the Euro 2012 campaign under Gary Speed.
It remains to be seen whether his successor will be in charge when the battle to reach Euro 2016 commences, with his future set to be decided after next month’s friendly against Finland.
But Coleman knows Wales have to hit the ground running to ensure they are not cut adrift, as has been the case in several recent campaigns.
“A draw in Belgium is fantastic, but what we need to do in the next campaign is start it like we have finished this one,” he said.
“This campaign we lost our first game 2-0 at home to Belgium, after having James Collins sent off, and then we get hammered in Serbia, and that was it.
“Before we have even started we are having to chase and we cannot afford to do that. We are not good enough to make those two games up. We have to hit the ground running."