Football: Giggs senses happier days for the Welsh

Belgium 3 Wales 2
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The Independent Online
Ryan Giggs believes Wales' new young breed can help him fulfil his dream of playing in the World Cup finals.

Great players from Wales' recent past like Neville Southall, Ian Rush and Mark Hughes have all failed to achieve that.

The lack of strength in depth has left fine players bitterly frustrated as their top-flight careers come to an end. Giggs is convinced he will be different and prove all the doubters wrong.

The Manchester United superstar turned in a world-class display for his country when they fought back from three down to frighten the life out of Belgium in Saturday's Group Seven qualifier in Brussels.

Giggs, captain of his country for the first time, was sensational. He scored one goal, was brought down for a penalty and should have had two more spot-kicks.

Afterwards the inspirational Giggs was full of praise for the youngsters and First Division journeymen who are his international team-mates. He said: "From what I have seen of the younger players coming through for Wales, I feel confident that they can become a team good enough to qualify for the finals of either the next World Cup or European Championships."

Giggs and his manager, Bobby Gould, see the emergence of Robbie Savage, Karl Ready, John Oster, John Hartson and Ceri Hughes as their hopes for the future. Wales have not reached a major finals since 1958 in Sweden, and it has been nearly 40 years of pain for the Principality since.

Now Giggs can see hope for the future. He says: "We will always score goals. We have scored six in our last two away games in Turkey and Belgium. With players coming back like Gary Speed and Mark Hughes we have to be optimistic. Being a Welshman I have to feel that way."

Goals: Staelens pen (4) 1-0; Claessens (33) 2-0; Wilmots (38) 3-0; Pembridge pen (52) 3-1; Giggs (60) 3-2.

BELGIUM: De Wilde (Sporting Lisbon); Deflandre (Club Bruges), De Roover (NAC Breda), Staelens (Club Bruges), Smidts (Charleroi), Van der Elst (Club Bruges), Wilmots (Schalke 04), Van Kerckhoven (Lierse), Boffin (Metz), Claessens (Club Bruges), Oliveira (Fiorentina). Substitutes: Verstraeten (Germinal Ekeren) for De Roover, 65; Nilis (PSV Eindhoven) for Claessens, 80; Borkelmans (Club Bruges) for Van Kerckhoven, 80.

WALES: Marriot (Wrexham); Jenkins (Huddersfield Town), Edwards (Bristol City), Robinson (Charlton Athletic), Ready (QPR), Pembridge (Sheffield Wednesday), Savage (Leicester City), C Hughes (Wimbledon), Saunders (Nottingham Forest), Hartson (West Ham United), Giggs (Manchester United). Substitutes: Taylor (Sheffield United) for Hartson, 84; Oster (Everton) for Savage, 90.

Referee: V Melo Pereira (Portugal).

Bookings: Belgium: Staelens. Wales: Edwards, Ready, Taylor.

Man of the match: Giggs.

Attendance: 40,000.

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