SportSoccer

Verbal battle breaks out between Ireland's World Cup rivals

Coleman bites back at Austrian snipes
Coleman bites back at Austrian snipes

Chris Coleman has dismissed Austria coach Marcel Koller's claim that Wales were "lucky" to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Koller spiced up Thursday night's World Cup qualifier in Vienna when he suggested at his pre-match press conference that Wales' march to the last four was down to good fortune.

But Wales manager Coleman responded at his own press conference in Vienna by saying: "We played more than most, had more opportunities, played more football, but I would not put our achievement down to luck.

"You can get lucky over 90 minutes, but you don't do that because of luck. We had good and bad luck but we achieved because we are a good team.

"There were teams with big reputations who had great qualifying campaigns but could not handle it. We handled it. So, no, I wouldn't put the semi-final down to luck."

Coleman felt Koller might have been to referring to Welsh 'luck' in the early exchanges of the opening Euro 2016 game against Slovakia when Ben Davies cleared Marek Hamsik's goal-bound shot off the line.

"That was not luck, it was good defending and commitment to the cause," Coleman said.

"We had bad luck in the first game when they should have been down to 10 men and we should have had a penalty for (Martin) Skrtel's challenge on Jonny Williams.

"These boys know what is at stake and we don't worry about what anyone says about us. There has been all sorts said about what we do, but we concentrate on ourselves and the game plan. We stick to that.

"We will respect Austria, but we will concentrate on what we have worked on. It is about what we do."

Koller also said on Wednesday afternoon that he had drawn up special plans to keep Wales talisman Gareth Bale quiet.

Bale scored twice in the opening 4-0 victory over Moldova last month to move within four goals of Ian Rush's record 28-goal Wales tally.

The Austria coach claimed there would be "two or three players in close vicinity to disturb Bale" at the Ernst Happel Stadion and not allow him time to settle on the ball.

"That is not a new plan," Coleman said. "That is what he faces every week with Real Madrid and when he plays for us.

"You can work as much as you like defensively, shut them out for 89 minutes and a split second changes everything.

"So it is very difficult to come up with a game plan when you're up against brilliance, and that's what Gareth Bale is."

Coleman has happy memories of Vienna having scored on his Wales debut in a 1-1 draw against Austria in April 1992.

Although re-named, Coleman's goal came at the same stadium where Wales play on Thursday and, asked by an Austrian journalist to recall that match, he said: "I scored in the last couple of minutes.

"Of course I was very excited, and I was surprised because the type of football I was used to was very different.

"I remember we expected there would be 15,000 in the stadium and there was probably 40,000. The atmosphere was fantastic and I hope it's the same tomorrow."