Southall left frustrated by Welsh 'fundamental flaws'

Wales 1 Belgium 2

So many years, so much disappointment. As the realisation that he would never make it to a major finals crept up on Neville Southall frustration dripped out of him like water from a burst pipe. Anger followed as he confronted the enormity of the wasted effort.

His first instinct was to retire from international football after 15 years and 91 caps for guarding the goal for his country. His next, once he realised that Wales still have a razor-thin chance of reaching the World Cup's climax next year, was to have one last hurrah.

The player-coach did not join the growing chorus questioning Bobby Gould's worth - indeed he said he would go too if his manager was dismissed - but lambasted an infrastructure that has overseen 40 years of failure since Wales last reached the World Cup proper.

"I would love to be able to say that Bobby was shit," he said, "or the players are too old and the youngsters coming in are rubbish. But it's not the case. There are no simple excuses. We are talking about years of incompetence.

"Sacking Bobby Gould would be the easy option. I don't think you should dismiss someone now because of the inability of Welsh football for the past 10 years. Whoever was in charge would have had a tough job on his hands. We have a fundamental flaw in our game and its called bureaucracy. Once we sort that side of it we might have a chance.''

Southall had a litany of grievances: an unwieldy Welsh FA council of 26 members; an inability to market the game properly to bring desperately needed finance; the lack of top coaches to nurture young talent. "The manager of Hartlepool has more resources than we have," he lamented.

"We are playing at being a nation of footballers. The days have gone when you could tell youngsters to go round the back with Uncle Fred and he will teach you how to kick a ball. It has moved on from there. The game's professional now.''

As a platform to launch this diatribe, this match was rock rigid. In many ways Wales had improved on their pathetic showings against the Netherlands last autumn but their failings were still manifest. Belgium had also succumbed to the Dutch and arrived with a patched-up team in transition with a coach, George Leekens, whose one match in charge had been a lame 3-0 defeat by Northern Ireland.

Yet once Ryan Giggs' sporadic bursts of trickery had been corralled into cul-de-sacs by the wise old head of Franky Van Der Elst, the visitors enlightened the last football match at Cardiff Arms Park.

If anyone embodied the differences between the wealth of nations it was Dominique Lemoine. The Mouscron midfielder is 31 and was making his first start for his country, yet his perception of a pass was light years away from that of Barry Horne and Vinnie Jones.

He found gaps that the Welsh would not imagine, never mind see, and with two eager, quick front runners like Lokonda M'Penza and Luis Oliveira to profit from his craft, the home defence was distorted horribly. The latter had three chances to add to Betrand Crasson's and Lorenzo Staelens' goals.

Lemoine would have a half century of caps if he was Welsh, while the home side has scarcely the depth of quality to allow the talents of someone like Enzo Scifo just a cameo performance as the Belgians did. This was a team in transition, remember. Wales, with six players in the side over 30, have this painful process to go through.

They have Giggs, of course, and in Gary Speed, whose excellent display was garnished by a headed goal from Clayton Blackmore's 68th-minute corner, they have a sweeper of growing reputation. Their future, like where they will play while the National Stadium is being rebuilt, is uncertain.

"I sometimes wish we could have a real crisis," Southall said, his head bowed with the weight of what he was wishing upon his beloved country. "Maybe then people will address what's wrong." For him it was a sad night, and, for Wales, a sadder way to bid farewell to a ground of fond memory.

Goals: Crasson (24 min) 0-1; Staelens (44) 0-2; Speed (67) 1-2.

WALES (3-4-1-2): Southall (Everton); Page (Watford), Speed (Everton), Symons (Manchester City); Blackmore (Middlesbrough), Jones (Wimbledon), Horne (Birmingham), Pembridge (Sheffield Wed); Giggs (Manchester Utd); M Hughes (Chelsea), Saunders (Nottingham Forest). Substitute: Hartson (West Ham) for Saunders, 64.

BELGIUM (3-5-2): De Wilde (Sporting Lisbon); De Roover (Lierse), Van Meir (Lierse), Smidts (Antwerp); Crasson (Napoli), Van der Elst (Bruges), Staelens (Bruges), Lemoine (Mouscron), Van Kerckhoven (Lierse); L M'Penza (Mouscron), Oliveira (Fiorentina). Substitutes: M M'Penza (Mouscron) for L M'Penza, 64; Scifo (Monaco) for Oliveira, 79.

Bookings: Wales: Page, Hughes, Horne; Belgium: L M'Penza.

Referee: C Faellstrom (Sweden).

Man of the match: Lemoine.

Attendance: 15,000.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport