Belfast Telegraph

Chris Coleman: Wales can seize golden chance

By Phil Blanche

Wales manager Chris Coleman says his players have embraced the moment Welsh football has been waiting a decade for.

There have been plenty of heartbreak stories down the years when the likes of Neville Southall, Mark Hughes, Ian Rush and Ryan Giggs failed to grace the major tournament their talents deserved.

But not since a Euro 2004 play-off defeat to Russia have Wales been in the running to add another major finals to their solitary appearance at the 1958 World Cup.

Beating Belgium, the world's second-placed team on the FIFA rankings, on Friday night is a tall order but victory would take Wales three points clear at the top of Group B

"This is what we have always wanted," Coleman said ahead of the Euro 2016 qualifier at the Cardiff City Stadium.

"The difference in this camp is the attention we have had and the interest from outside.

"It is huge, but we cannot complain because we have said for a long time we wanted to play in front of full houses against the best teams in the world - playing to do something special.

"Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger because with every result we get, the next game gets bigger. We are embracing it, and it is helping the squad grow and mature.

"The more times you are in those big games and you take care of the pressure, you get better for it."

Belgium and Wales are both locked on 11 points with the Red Devils' superior goal difference giving them top spot.

Marc Wilmots' side are packed with household names, most of them plying their trade in the Barclays Premier League, but Wales held them at bay in a gutsy goalless draw in Brussels last November.

They also had chances to win that contest and the game plan will probably be similar, attempt to smother Belgium's dangerous forwards while seeking to utilise the pace and power of Gareth Bale who wins his 50th cap tonight, nine years after his first as a 16-year-old.

Belfast Telegraph