Chris Coleman: Wales missing 'underdog' status in World Cup qualifiers

The Republic of Ireland's Group D rivals go to Austria this evening as favourites to win the group

Chris Coleman

Image: John Walton PA Wire/Press Association Images

Wales manager Chris Coleman says that his side are missing their 'underdog' label that served them so well during the European Championships campaign in France.

Coleman led his team to unprecedented success as they progressed as far as the semi-final, only to beaten by eventual winners Portugal.  

Two goals in a three minute period brought to end a memorable summer in Welsh football history and has breathed new life into the team.

They are top of their World Cup Group D  qualifying group, level on points with Austria and two clear of the Republic of Ireland.

Coleman says their performance in France has brought a level of expectation on the team, the likes of which they have not previously experienced. 

"We're used to that and we almost thrive on that," he said of their 'underdog' status. "Us against the world so to speak. We're a little nation with a chip on our shoulder anytime we play any of the big boys.

"But now there's an expectancy on this Welsh team to roll teams over and it never happens like that."

Serbia also feature in a particularly competitive Group D, but Coleman doesn't see fixtures against Ireland's opponent's on Thursday night, Georgia, and Moldova as straightforward fixtures. 

"With the Republic of Ireland and Serbia, we know all too well what Serbia are capable of. Austria had a fantastic campaign on the way to the Euros. So we're in good company.

"Georgia, Moldova you know, they don't roll over these teams. They're all tough games, this will be a very hard one tomorrow and that's a great one for us. You always want  to play against good teams to test yourself and there's no doubt that it will be a test tomorrow. 

"We can take great pride in the fact that we've been made favourites... We've proved before that there's no team to be afraid of, we'll respect everyone but certainly no fear."

Coleman added that picking up points in this early stage of proceedings is of paramount importance.

"It doesn't matter to me how it comes tomorrow night. If we can play great football and win, fantastic. But we don't always do that, sometimes we've got to get the desired outcome in a different manner. 

"We know our jobs, we've got our gameplan and it's important that we try and implement everything we've worked on in training."