Memories of Georgia humbling haunting Wales boss Coleman

Wales boss Coleman ready for next World Cup qualifier
Wales boss Coleman ready for next World Cup qualifier

Chris Coleman has had Georgia embarrassment on his mind for over 20 years, but insists the Wales side he now manages has a far stronger mentality than ones he played in.

Coleman featured in a 5-0 thumping by Georgia in November 1994 - a game he recalls as his "lowest moment in a Welsh shirt" - but the current team top their 2018 World Cup qualifying group just months after reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016.

Wales renew acquaintances with Georgia minus midfield pair Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen - the latter suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday's 2-2 draw with Austria and has returned to Stoke for treatment - but Coleman is confident ahead of Sunday's qualifier in Cardiff.

"It is down to experience and it is not because of us winning," Coleman said.

"It is losing, playing badly and getting criticised that hardens you.

"Any success I have had has not happened overnight, the journey has never felt like me sitting in the back of a limousine sipping champagne.

"It has always been more like riding up a hill on a push bike and the chain has come off.

"It is those disappointments that bring you through. That is what hardens us to the situation we are in now.

"Tomorrow will be as tough as anything we face, for different reasons, in the next eight games. But we are ready."

Wales were far being at from their best in Vienna but retained top spot in Group D on goal difference.

But Austria, the Republic of Ireland and Serbia also have four points in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive sections in World Cup qualifying.

Georgia have lost their opening two matches, 2-1 to Austria and 1-0 in Ireland on Thursday.

"One thing I've learned is that you've got to do yourself a favour," Coleman said.

"Nobody wants to give you anything for nothing, we learned that in the last campaign when we drew here with Israel and we were waiting for the result from Cyprus and Belgium scored a late goal.

"But of course you look at results because of the table and the standings. We all know who's playing next and that's the excitement of it all."

Coleman hopes Allen, who has been in outstanding form with three goals in as many games for club and country, will be available for next month's qualifier against Serbia in Cardiff.

He said the 26-year-old could be fit for Stoke's next Premier League fixture at home to Sunderland on October 15, but warned his recovery needs to be closely monitored.

"We've had a scan and something showed up, so you have to be very careful with it," said Coleman.

"If he has a good week he may play for Stoke next weekend, but this one is too soon for him.

"So from between now and then what he does is going to be very important.

"Let's make sure he's looked after properly and he's ready for the next one."

The loss of Ramsey and Allen puts a greater emphasis on Gareth Bale to perform against opponents who Wales have failed to beat in their three previous meetings.

But Bale, who suggested that he could once more use the long throws which unsettled Austria, denied that there is extra pressure on him, saying: "No, it is just the same. We are a unit, a team, we keep working together, no matter who is injured.

"No matter who the team is we will be concentrating on ourselves and trying to get that victory.

"Teams are paying us a lot more respect so it is difficult to get that space and create opportunities. But I think we are slowly learning how to do it."