The way Craig Bellamy sees it, defeats make time drag. Wales' stand-in captain had no sooner predicted "a long 18 months" if they failed to exploit two successive home fixtures in the qualifying for Euro 2008 than a 5-1 surrender to Slovakia left him lamenting "a long weekend" as he tried to switch the focus on to tonight's tussle with Cyprus.
Bellamy (pictured), who led Wales for the first time on Saturday with a scheduled appearance in court on a charge of common assault hanging over him, was speaking after a delay in the hearing allowed him to concentrate on the match in the Millennium Stadium. The rout had hurt, argued the 27-year-old Liverpool striker, yet it was now about how they reacted.
"Professional pride should take over," Bellamy said, facing the media at Wales' Vale of Glamorgan base rather than a judge in Cardiff magistrates' court. "When you want to succeed in the game, it has to hurt. If it doesn't, then you'll get caught out and you won't be in it for very long. I'm sure every person in the team felt the disappointment."
Bellamy had looked on aghast from a front-running position as Slovakia ran away with a game they began on the back foot. "Mistakes happen, but I'm not in that part of the pitch, so what could I have done?" he said. "You have to get your head up and look to the next match."
Some took the setback worse than others. Paul Jones, the veteran Queen's Park Rangers goalkeeper, was plainly embarrassed by his form, though he bravely fronted up to the microphones later. John Toshack, the Wales manager, is highly likely to replace him with Lewis Price, of Ipswich, or Blackburn's Jason Brown.
Despite the fact that Cyprus highlighted their improvement by trouncing the Republic of Ireland 5-2, Toshack will resist the temptation to make wholesale changes to a youthful side. He is scarcely blessed with ready-made replacements if he were so minded, with five of the side that lost 2-1 in the Czech Republic last month unavailable because of injuries.
Wales (3-5-2, probable): Price (Ipswich); Edwards (Wolves), Gabbidon (West Ham), Nyatanga (Derby); Parry (Cardiff), S Davies (Everton), Robinson (Norwich), Koumas (West Brom), Bale (Southampton); Bellamy (Liverpool), Earnshaw (Norwich).
Cyprus (4-4-2, probable): Morfis; Satsias, Lambrou, Louka, Theodotou; Charalambides, Garpozis, Makrides, Okka; Konstantinou, Aloneftis.
Referee: J Granat (Poland)Reuse content