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
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fund, London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...

Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Multicast, Low Latency

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...

Network Infrastructure Engineer

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...

Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Multicast)

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition