Football: Yorath leading group therapy: Henry Winter on a score of encouraging factors as Wales court more success

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A SCORELINE more synonymous with Flushing Meadow has helped Wales re-establish their American dream, but it was the manner of the straight-set success as much as the 6-0 result that augurs well for the Principality's World Cup qualifying campaign.

Playing a team of international apprentices with nothing to lose like the Faroes creates awkward tactical questions - ask Austria. A system that promotes all-out attack can leave gaps at the back, as the Dutch discovered in the European Championship, while a cautious stratagem can temper the cutting edge. Wales simply combined the best elements of both approaches.

The team fielded by Terry Yorath, the Wales manager, was essentially 3-4-1-2, built on a central defensive rock of Eric Young and Kit Symons, with Clayton Blackmore excelling at sweeper. The midfield of Barry Horne and Gary Speed was bolstered by two industrious wing-backs, David Phillips and Mark Bowen. Mark Hughes slotted into the hole behind Dean Saunders and Ian Rush, who linked so intuitively at the Arms Park that it was strange that their club partnership was dismantled hours later.

Yorath's formation may have had a tiny root in Wales's one weakness - that their well of available talent is not deep - but the beauty of 3-4-1-2 is that it converts in seconds to 3-1-6. Countless times against the outclassed Faroes, six red-shirted protagonists would be buzzing around Jens Martin Knudsen's box, while Horne hovered to break up any breakaways.

The fluidity of this formula was matched by the variety of goalscoring moves. The first two came from thoughtful long-balls, the third a confident dribble, and the rest from quick, precise passing.

The ease of Wales's command, plus the performances of Rush and Blackmore, in particular, has breathed confidence into their Group Four expedition. The poor start, a 5-1 beating in Romania at the end of last season when, Rush pointed out, 'we were really tired', has been forgotten and the goal difference turned round.

Two points next month in Cyprus, who won narrowly in the Faroes, and a good result in Belgium in November - both achievable objectives - would really put Wales in the driving seat, especially as they have their last three qualifiers at home, when the hwyl will be its height. Romania and Belgium, both unbeaten, are considered favourites to qualify, but the Welsh are closing in and courting more success.

Comments