Wales manager Chris Coleman is forced on defensive
Coleman admits his stock could be low following team's poor qualifying campaign
Thursday 10 October 2013
Chris Coleman tried to deflect attention away from his future as Wales manager ahead of the meaningless World Cup qualifier at home to Macedonia. He reached a verbal agreement with the Welsh FA over a two-year contract extension prior to last month's games against the Macedonians and Serbia but defeat in both games has left Wales bottom of Group A and with no chance of going to Brazil next year.
"I know the contract situation is still there but this is not the time or place to talk about that," Coleman said. "I'm here until the end of the campaign because I said I would never ever walk away from this job." But he added, ominously: "We're stocks and shares as managers, when you're winning your stock is high and you have opportunities to go elsewhere, losing is a different story. I'm concentrating on the game and what happens after that... what will be will be and soon enough we'll find out."
At least Aaron Ramsey has not added to Coleman's injury woes as he was passed fit to captain Wales. The Arsenal midfielder has enjoyed a superb start to the season and, with regular captain Ashley Williams among 10 players ruled out, the 22-year-old will lead the side for the second game in succession.
Scotland, like Wales, will not be heading to Brazil and they will be without Jordan Rhodes for their final qualifier against Croatia at Hampden Park on Tuesday. The Blackburn striker is suffering from a groin strain.
Belgium, the leaders of Group A, are suddenly one of the most talked-about European teams after Manchester United's wunderkind Adnan Januzaj refused an approach to play for them as he decides his international future from among a number of suitors. And they can qualify as group winners if they avoid defeat against the Croats, who are in second place.
Friday's qualifier between Spain and Belarus is set to go ahead despite an explosion in a power-supply unit outside the stadium in Mallorca. Two people suffered serious injuries in the blast. The world and European champions need just four points out of a possible six to guarantee automatic qualification.
Germany can secure qualification with a win against the Republic of Ireland in Cologne. Even a draw would probably be enough for them to finish top of Group C because of a vastly superior goal difference over second-placed Sweden. Perhaps the most intriguing prospect is that Bosnia & Herzegovina will all but seal their first appearance at the World Cup finals if they beat Liechtenstein.
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