Toshack says rookies can make Baku the future

Azerbaijan 0 Wales 1
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The Independent Football

John Toshack returned home from Baku yesterday with his faith restored in the future of Welsh football. In Azerbaijan on Saturday, a raw bunch of under-21 rookies collected Wales' first away win in World Cup qualifying Group 4 with a tremendous display of team spirit.

David Edwards scored the first-half winner and then played a significant part in a display of courage from the whole side, missing 10 senior men, in a hostile stadium and atmosphere that would have tested the very best.

Toshack said: "The lads gave us everything, you cannot fault their effort. By the end they were too tired to even get over the half-way line, their legs had gone. Under the circumstances, the long distance to get here, the heat and the four hour time difference it was a very encouraging display.

"Overall the team did exceptionally well. We defended well and it was the right result. Just look at who we had missing and the problems we had coming into the game with injuries. Experienced sides have had problems in Baku, we have to be satisfied with a win like that."

The Baku match was their 10th of a demanding season that has seen constant team changes and injuries. Wales have now won their last two and five overall for the campaign, although losses to Finland, Germany and Russia killed any hope of reaching next year's finals in South Africa.

Toshack added: "It has given us something to work on. We got ourselves into a bit of a hole by losing at home to Finland. The hope then was that we could target third place, but we end up going to Azerbaijan aware that we could finish second from bottom instead. Now with three games left we have to start looking to try to take third. That has to be the objective now, and not be worried that teams below us can overtake us and upset our seeding for the next tournament."

Azerbaijan: Veliyev, Shukurov, Rashad Sadygov, Nabiyev (Huseynov, 50), Melikov, Levin, Bahshiev, Zeynalov, Ramin (Subasic, 45), Javadov, Akhtyamov (Nadirov, 60). Substitutes not used: Mehdiev, Pereira, Maharramov, Jalilov.

Wales: Hennessey (Wolves), Eardley (Oldham), Williams (Swansea), Morgan (Peterborough), Nyatanga (Derby County), Gunter (Tottenham), Ledley (Cardiff City), Ramsey (Arsenal), Edwards (Wolves), Church (Reading) (Tudur Jones (Swansea) 83), Earnshaw (Nottm Forest) (Vokes (Wolves) 70). Substitutes not used: Myhill (Hull City), Price (Derby), King (Leicester), MacDonald (Swansea), Allen (Swansea).

Referee: M Strombergsson (Sweden).

Attendance: 26,728

Wales remaining games: Wed 9 Sep Russia (h), Sat 10 Oct Finland (a), Wed 14 Oct Liechtenstein (a)