Belfast Telegraph

Wales reaching the Euro semi-finals in France was no fluke: Chris Coleman

By Phil Blanche

Chris Coleman has dismissed Austria coach Marcel Koller's claim that Wales were "lucky" to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Koller spiced up tonight's World Cup qualifier in Vienna when he suggested that Wales' march to the last four in France was down to good fortune. But Wales manager Coleman responded in Vienna by saying: "We played more than most, had more opportunities, played more football, but I would not put our achievement down to luck.

"You can get lucky over 90 minutes, but you don't do that because of luck. We had good and bad luck but we achieved because we are a good team.

"There were teams with big reputations who had great qualifying campaigns but could not handle it. We handled it. So, no, I wouldn't put the semi-final down to luck."

Coleman felt Koller might have been referring to Welsh 'luck' in the early exchanges of the opening Euro 2016 game against Slovakia when Ben Davies cleared Marek Hamsik's goal-bound shot off the line.

"That was not luck, it was good defending and commitment to the cause," Coleman said.

Koller also said that he had drawn up special plans to keep Wales talisman Gareth Bale quiet.

Bale scored twice in the opening 4-0 victory over Moldova last month to move within four goals of Ian Rush's record 28-goal Wales tally.

The Austria coach claimed there would be "two or three players in close vicinity to disturb Bale" at the Ernst Happel Stadion.

"That is not a new plan," Coleman said. "That is what he faces every week with Real Madrid and when he plays for us."

Coleman has happy memories of Vienna having scored on his Wales debut in a 1-1 draw against Austria in April 1992.

Although re-named, Coleman's goal came at the same stadium where Wales play and, asked by an Austrian journalist to recall that match, he said: "I scored in the last couple of minutes.

"We expected there to be 15,000 in the stadium and there was 40,000. The atmosphere was fantastic and I hope it's the same."

Belfast Telegraph


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