The Wales captain Craig Bellamy cut a frustrated figure after his yellow card in yesterday's 2-1 defeat against Finland prematurely ended a disappointing World Cup qualification campaign.
The Manchester City striker has been in career-best form for his club in recent weeks and maintained his hot streak with a first-half equaliser in Helsinki. That goal made Bellamy Wales' fifth highest scorer of all time, but any satisfaction the 30-year-old took from that moment was lost when Niklas Moisander struck a winner for the hosts 13 minutes from the end.
To further sour Bellamy's mood, his 48th-minute booking means he will miss Wednesday's final game of the campaign against Liechtenstein in Vaduz. "Sadly, this is the end of the group for me, and it hasn't been a great campaign," he said. "I have not been used to losing this season, so this will hurt me more. But I have been here before, and you always try to make it better. But we will have to wait and see on that.
"We keep saying one day the kids will blossom, again we will have to wait and see. I am still keen to keep playing for Wales, of course, and I feel in good health which is vital for me if I want to do that. But it is very disappointing, and we have to keep soldiering on. What pluses are there from this campaign? I don't know, I'll let others decide that."
While Bellamy still talks of wanting to fight for the nation's cause, just how much longer he will do so on a regular basis is now being openly discussed. Manager John Toshack has already admitted he is considering using Bellamy only for qualifiers in the future.
Bellamy will no doubt want to lead out Wales on 14 November for the prestige of a home friendly with Scotland to give Cardiff City's new ground its debut as an international venue. But after that Wales will have only friendlies before they embark on their European championship qualifiers next term.
Bellamy could therefore go 10 months without playing for his country. The striker was also disappointed with his booking which will see him sit out Wednesday's game alongside goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
He said: "I haven't got a clue really why I got a card. I was very unhappy with the challenge, my leg was very sore afterwards. I was the one fouled, their lad had already been booked and I was obviously having a go at him and not the referee, maybe the referee didn't understand my English."
Finland (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen (Bolton); Pasanen (Werder Bremen), Hyypia (Bayer Leverkusen), Tihinen (Zurich), Moisander (AZ Alkmaar); R Eremenko (Dynamo Kiev), Litmanen (Lahti), Kolkka (NAC Breda), Sparv (Halmstad); Johansson, Porokara (Orebro). Substitutes used: Hamalainen for Kolkka, 68; Kuqi (Koblenz) for Johansson, 88; A Eremenko (Lecce) for Litmanen, 90;
Wales (4-4-2): Hennessey (Wolves); Gunter (Nottm Forest), Collins (Aston Villa), Williams (Swansea), Nyatanga (Bristol City); Bale (Tottenham), Edwards (Wolves), Ramsey (Arsenal), Vaughan (Blackpool); Bellamy (Man City), Church (Reading). Substitutes used: Vokes (Wolves) for Church, 62; Eardley (Blackpool) for Nyatanga, 83.
Referee: M Masic (Serbia).
Booked: Finland Tihinen, Pasanen; Wales Bellamy, Hennessey.
Man of the match: Pasanen.
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