Football / World Cup: Mobility is key to saving Wales

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The Independent Online
ADJACENT to the conference suite where Terry Yorath, the Welsh manager, held court in Newport yesterday was a room full of businessmen receiving a lecture on how to succeed in the international sphere. The aspiring moguls were exhorted to 'use your know-how', 'channel your emotions' and 'ordain your destiny' - three guidelines which Yorath's perceptive team will adhere to tonight as they get down to World Cup Group Four business against Cyprus at the Arms Park.

With such world-class attackers as Ryan Giggs, Ian Rush and Dean Saunders, backed by the muscular midfield presence of Mark Hughes and Barry Horne, Wales are overflowing with know-how. The technical expertise of these Premiership professionals is so formidable that Yorath expects Cyprus, who, despite their defensive strengths, have won only three internationals in 54 attempts, to draft in 'four to five man-markers'.

Against such spoiling tactics Yorath will utilise the mobility inherent in his squad, possibly deploying Gary Speed as an attacking replacement for the injured full- back, Paul Bodin, with Giggs given a free role.

Giggs's prospective limpet, Costas Costa, the Apoel Nicosia defender, has already warned the Manchester United tiro that he may 'give him a whack to let him know I'm around'. Costa will have to get close to Giggs first. Those who have seen Giggs when he dons the red shirt of either club or country, know that he has the know-how, both mental and physical to cope with any over-zealous marking.

But Wales must concentrate on 'channelling their emotions'. Five players - Hughes, Rush, Horne, Mark Aizlewood and Andy Melville - have one booking and if the Englishman Philip Don, an odd appointment to referee a game involving a home nation, cautions one of them again they will miss the crucial final game against Romania. 'We are all professionals,' Hughes said 'and we will try not to get caught doing anything petty which could get us booked.'

While the forwards exercise their finishing know-how, Yorath's sweeper-based back-line has the flexibility - in depth, width and vision - to deal with Cypriot counter-attacks, which should revolve around the dangerous Andreas Sotiriou and Niki Papavassiliou, whom Newcastle picked up from the Crete club, OFI, for an MFI price of pounds 125,000. They will still have to get past Aizlewood, Wales's unsung sweeper, who was released by Bristol City last week.

'He probably plays better at international level than at club level,' Yorath said. 'It's a good platform for him. Within the next few days he could be involved in a World Cup game and then be on the dole. That could be me as well.'

Unlikely. A win, as expected, against Cyprus would take what Yorath calls the 'toughest of all the groups' right down to the wire, particularly if the Group Four leaders, Belgium, lose in Romania.

WALES (probable): Southall (Everton); Aizelwood (unattached), Phillips (Nottingham Forest), Young (Crystal Palace), Symons (Portsmouth), Speed (Leeds United), Horne (Everton), Hughes (Manchester United), Saunders (Aston Villa), Rush (Liverpool), Giggs (Manchester United).

CYPRUS (probable): Petrides (Apoel Nicosia); Kalotheou (Omonia Nicosia), Pittas (Apollon Limassol), Costa (Apoel Nicosia), Constantinou, Christofi (both Omonia Nicosia), Yiangoudakis, Charalambous (Apollon Limassol), Larkou (Pezoporikos Larnaca), Sotiriou (Apollon Limassol), Papavassiliou (Newcastle).

Referee: P Don (England).

----------------------------------------------------------------- GROUP FOUR ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Belgium 8 7 0 1 15 3 14 Romania 8 5 1 2 25 10 11 RCS 8 3 4 1 18 9 10 Wales 8 4 2 2 16 10 10 Cyprus 8 2 1 5 8 13 5 Faroe Islands 10 0 0 10 1 38 0 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Remaining fixtures: Today: Romania v Belgium, Wales v Cyprus. 27 Oct: RCS v Cyprus. 17 Nov: Wales v Romania, Belgium v RCS. -----------------------------------------------------------------

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