BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese

BBC Sport
 You are in: Sports Talk  
Sport Front Page
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Wales on course for Euro 2004?
Mark Hughes, Wales manager
Wales beat a strong Finland side 2-0 in their Euro 2004 qualification curtain-raiser.

Is Mark Hughes guiding Wales to glory?

Prior to the Finland encounter, Wales has notched up an impressive tally of five games without a defeat - including a win against Germany and a draw against Argentina.

But manager Mark Hughes warned that it would count for nothing unless they got a result in Helsinki - and the boys did not disappoint.

The first half-hour was cagey, but Wales eventually broke the deadlock, with an incisive pass from Gary Speed that by-passed Ryan Giggs to land on the end of John Hartson's boot for the opener.

Robbie Savage and Giggs were sparkling, and their clever link-up play led to the second goal, which Tottenham youngster Simon Davies drilled home.

Is this just the start of things to come for Wales?

This debate is now closed

For me the most interesting thing about the game was Sparky's comments after the game. As a manager he came of age that night.

Wales have a long road ahead of them and of course it's very important not to get carried away, which is what the Gaffer will be telling the less experienced players. But the future looks bright.
Armand, Wales

One win over a team that has never qualified for any major tournament is not a turning point
Ben, England

It's true that we now have pride and passion - but we now also have what has been lacking in a Wales squad for 50 years - quality and depth!

I just hope that young players like Simon Davies are not put under to much pressure! The persistence of us Wales fans has paid off and we now have a team that we can be proud of and are capable of going to a major championship.
Phil, Wales

I'd just like to register my congratulations to the Welsh team for a fantastic result against Finland, who are no easy opponents nowadays.

To win away to them is something that England couldn't manage in their WC group, so very well done and I hope you can qualify for Euro 2004 and make your nation proud.
Ian Raisbeck, England

So Chris in the USA thinks Wales has a midfield England would die for. Apart from Giggs, no-one would even get close to the English team. Speed, Davies etc should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Gerrard, Beckham, Joe Cole, Bowyer and Scholes.

One win over a team that has never qualified for any major tournament is not a turning point. Although Wales are definitely improving, does anyone really think they are capable of beating Itlay or Yugoslavia?
Ben, England

You boys seem to have what us Scots are missing, pride and passion
Hand of Jordan, Scotland

I think the whole of Britain should be allowed to watch the Wales v Italy match live on 16 October. As the BBC hold the TV rights, why not let the whole of the UK watch the game live?

By the way I'll be there with my two kids - total cost 22! How much does it cost to watch England?
John Pugsley, Wales

An excellent performance in Finland, although the Finns were absolutely awful. How on earth did they draw twice with Germany, and once with England in qualifying for the World Cup?

If we can get a result against Italy next month, with back to back games to come against Azerbaijan, we'll be handily placed in the group at half way.
Mark Smith, Wales

Well done to the Welsh boys on a great result in Finland. I hope Wales go on to qualify. You boys seem to have what us Scots are missing, pride and passion. Good luck!
Hand of Jordan, Scotland

A great start to our Euro 2004 qualification. Mark Hughes has turned what was a laughing stock in world football into a team that will give anyone a run for their money.

I hope we take this result into the next game and put one over the Italians. Welsh football is alive and kicking! Come on!
Iwan, Welsh Exile, USA

The result was a fair reflection on Wales' recent progress. But we musn't get complaicent. The Italians wil be a much sterner test.
Dan Knoxville, Wales

Surely one of the proudest moments in Welsh sport in recent years
Alun, England

Fantastic to see Wales doing well. Hope we can keep a friendly rivalry without stooping to the pathetic Scottish, bitchy mentality.
Malcolm, England

I have just got back to work after recovering from a manic but thoroughly enjoyable weekend in Helsinki! Great result lads, the atmosphere in the stadium was great and the goals were all well deserved.

The Finnish people were fantastic hosts and gracious losers! And for a rugby fan going to only his second ever live football match all I can say is - not too shabby this footy lark is it! Bring on the Italians...and let's beat the All Blacks in November too to make it a memorable year!
Julian, Welshman, Exiled to Sweden!

Given that Scotland now appear to be in terminal decline and that Wales, under the leadership of Mark Hughes, are on the up, maybe now is the time for the BBC to start devoting more airtime to our achievements.

It is tedious watching extended coverage of a meaningless English friendlies and dire Scottish performance only to see limited "highlights" of the Welsh game. It comes to something when the British Broadcasting Corporation seem to lavish more attention on the non-British Ireland side. Time for a re-think please BBC.
David, England

Surely one of the proudest moments in Welsh sport in recent years. At long last there's now an amazing 'hwyl' brewing which is something that's been almost exclusively reserved for the rugby team over the years.

Their defence is the only thing of concern. Can it hold strong against top class opposition?
Richard Orton, Scotland

Football is THE world stage for smaller nations to advertise themselves and Wales is now in a position, through the team and the people, to show the world that we're proud to be Welsh.
Alun, England

There is a new optimism growing in Welsh football with the recent national performances and the steady rise of Cardiff City. Wales can now boast a handful of international standard players, with some good younger players emerging and gaining exposure to top level football.

The involvement of the top Welsh clubs in the English league has been crucial to this. Wales will do well to qualify for Euro 2004 but expect to see some impressive crowd attendances for the home matches at the millenium stadium. This should raise a few eyebrows in the WRU at least.
Simon, UK

Wales have a fantastic midfield and strike force. The likes of Hartson, Bellamy, Giggs, Speed, Savage and Davies should see them through. Their defence is the only thing of concern. Can it hold strong against top class opposition? Only time will tell, but I think they should qualify for the championships through the play-offs.
Richard Orton, Scotland

Hughes better watch it, the same people that are praising him now will be around calling for his head if things go wrong. I wish him all the best. At least Giggsy might get to show the rest of the world his soccer prowess should Wales make the party in 2004.
Oluwashina Okeleji, Nigeria

Wales have a slim chance of making it to the Euro Championships. Yes they have a credible team but they won't beat Italy. Then they will have to contend with making it through the lottery and they could get any team. But their midfield is one England would die for.

The team needs all the support it can get from the Welsh fans
D G Collins Secretary General, FAW

Giggs is just pure class and Davies is coming into his own. It is a pity Wales didn't make it to the World Cup.
Chris, USA

Can I on behalf of Mark Hughes, the Welsh Squad and the FAW thank all the wonderful Welsh spectators that travelled to Finland to give the team such magnificent support? It was a tremendous occasion in Helsinki, a great win to start our Euro 2004 campaign.

The team needs all the support it can get from the Welsh fans as we face a very difficult match in the Millennium Stadium against Italy on 16 October. Please turn out in force to support Mark and the team.

Thank you once again to all those fans that travelled to Finland.
D G Collins Secretary General, FAW

Giggs, Bellamy and Hartson are a fantastic trio in attack, and there are plenty of good players in the Wales team, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

One win is nice, but Wales aren't even close to being qualified yet.

They will need all six points against Azerbaijan, and they need six or seven points in their five matches with Yugoslavia/Italy/Finland.
Grant, United States of America

I have just enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Helsinki. It was not only a great result but a great night in a great city.

The Welsh football fans owe Mark Hughes a huge debt of gratitude. He has transformed what was a laughing stock into a team who can match any team in the world and who have every chance of qualifying for a major tournament.

All credit to the Finnish fans for an excellent welcome
Chris Hugh, Welsh, in Sweden

It is obvious that the players have massive respect for him and want to play for him. The performance in Finland on Saturday showed that every single player is prepared to play his part and battle for the cause. And not only is it the players that Mark Hughes has inspired. He has managed to reignite the interest of the Welsh public. The support in Helsinki was fantastic and the 2,000 Welsh fans sang non stop.
A Williams, Wales

To borrow a line from rugby - "I was there." What a night! 31,000 Finns and 1,000 Welshman. Can you guess who made the most noise? The national anthem was belted out by us boys in Red.

There was a fantastic spirit in the stadium. I was seated amongst the Finns, and Simon Davies' goal was right in front of us. What a pass by Giggs - split the Finnish defence, and Davies put it away for 2-0! What rapture! It was a brilliant start to the campaign, and a great night for Welsh football. All credit to the Finnish fans for an excellent welcome.
Chris Hugh, Welsh, in Sweden

Well done to Sparky and the boys. I would particularly like to mention Robbie Savage. He takes a lot of stick in the media, but they need to see him play for his country. There is nobody more committed or focused on winning the game than him. He bosses the midfield and allows Davies and Giggs to do the creative part. Man-of-the-match every time.
Mark, Wales

Wales now have a balance to their side that even the likes of England lack. For a start, the pace and trickery of Giggs along with the ever-improving and incisive play of Davies.

Not to mention the complimentary combination of target man Hartson with the fast-running Bellamy. The future's bright for Welsh football under the guidance of Sparky. Bring on the Azurri!
Nick, UK

Wales are going to Euro 2004, no question!
Rhodri Lloyd, Chester

The boys done great. The atmosphere in the stadium was brilliant, and it was quite a night in Helsinki afterwards. The Finnish fans were a model of how to host a match, with no nonsense after their defeat. Bring on the Italians!
Alun Pugh, Finland

Going back a few years, Wales found it hard to win or even score a goal. Fans feared that they may never reach a major tournament. Bobby Gould has gone and Mark Hughes is in, and what a job here's done.

He has a great squad full of both experienced players, and impressive youngsters. Wales are going to Euro 2004, no question!
Rhodri Lloyd, Chester, England

Something big is going on in Wales. Cardiff City are definitely on the up, and they are producing world class players (Rob Earnshaw, Danny Gabbidon, Rhys Weston) - they will be the next Mark Hughes'.

Mark is a credit to the Welsh side and he is totally right on letting the younger players get some experience. Qualification seems definite. Good luck boys!!
Gavin John, Wales

I hope the FAW continue to give Sparky all the support he needs
Mark, Scotland

Fabulous result! I had thought we were well capable of getting a draw in Helsinki, but a win is just fantastic. I hope the FAW continue to give Sparky all the support he needs.

What a shame those of us not living in Wales only got to see minimal highlights on Match of the Day, and that after sitting through extended highlights of Enlgand's pointless friendly and even more extended droning on courtesy of the crisp man, the wannabe Englishman and Monkey-Heid about the same game.

"British" Broadcasting Corporation? I think we all know which part of Britain is being catered for here when a friendly played by one nation, and roundly derided by the press as a worthless exercise, gets more attention that the two competitive games played by the other nations get together.
Mark, Scotland

I've literally just come back from Helsinki. What an amazing place, people and result. Just a shame that we lost the international supporters match 7-2...

Goal of the weekend must go to Dafydd Prys for the opener - a lovely header from 15 yards out - from a pass by Sion England. Well done boys. Bring on Italy.
Gwydion Gruffudd, Cymru

It is good to see a Wales team play with passion and pride
S McMahon, Wales

Wales fully deserved their win against Finland, and I say that they can take on Italy and qualify in first place. John Hartson and Simon Davies scored two excellent goals, and I was counting the seconds until the final whistle.
Ben Jones, Wales

A great night in Helsinki. Six games unbeaten for the boys. It's taken two years to get the team organised. Mark Hughes has done a great job, we must keep our feet on the ground though.
Neil, Cymru - Wales

Well done boys on a fantastic win. Mark Hughes is doing a great job and it is good to see a Wales team play with passion and pride. Bring on Italy.
S McMahon, Wales

Great to see another UK nation in the news for football other than England and Scotland. I also noticed in the other comments that young Simon Davies wasn't talked about...I personally think in two-three years he will be at least as good as, if not better, than Giggs - and that's not because I'm a Spurs supporter!
Tim Warwick, Australia

Wales have always had that star player Rush and Giggs to name a few, but now we have something more important - a strong all round team which believes in itself.
Peter, Wales

Mark Hughes has instilled what has been missing for so long - pride
Howard Barnes, Wales

Fantastic win for Wales - Mark Hughes is the best thing to happen to Welsh football since Terry Yorath. Hopefully now we'll get some recognition for our performances and results, rather than having to listen endlessly about England's friendly match.

I have to say that I was disgusted with Bobby Robson for trying to stop Craig Bellamy from playing for us, but fair play to Craig for showing his loyalty to Wales. Let's not get carried away, but it was a fantastic result - and long may they continue.
Angharad, Cymru

Well done Wales an excellent result. While I may be an Englishman it is always a pleasure to see one of the home nations get a well deserved victory. I wish the Team every success for the upcoming campaign.
Matt W, UK

As a (frustrated) Welsh Rugby supporter I am totally thrilled by the success of the football team. The team deserves every credit, along with manager Mark Hughes. I look forward to a Wales victory at both football and rugby against Italy in the next few months!
David Evans, (Welsh Exile)

After 40 odd years of being left out, Wales have again proved that the Fifa world ranking positions are a farce. Mark Hughes has instilled what has been missing for so long - pride. In their Euro 2004 group, Wales will delight the country just by qualifying. But even if they don't, the team has already made us very proud.
Howard Barnes, Wales

England's true 'Auld Enemy' now lies to the west rather than to the north
Joey B, Wales

Another superbly organised display by Wales, and one for which Mark Hughes must take great credit. To beat the likes of the Italians, however, we will need to take the game to the opposition more and defend from the opponent's penalty area rather than dropping deep. Had Forsell played the result could have been very different.
Wyn James, Wales

Great result for Wales on Saturday. There is definitely a feel good factor about their team and with their main players on form in the Premiership they are able to produce some very good results. Keep it up.
Finbar, Ireland

I'd just like to say congratulations to all the Welsh squad for their gutsy performance. Although the game wasn't exactly a great spectacle, I'd take that type of result anytime over the normal rollercoaster ride that is welsh football. You did the country proud lads, keep it up.
Paul Morgan, Wales

Scotland are better than Wales eh, Mr Hansen? Maybe at women's curling, but when it comes to international football it looks like England's true 'Auld Enemy' now lies to the west rather than to the north.
Joey B, Wales

In Mark Hughes Wales have a national manager who the players respect and want to play for - even Ryan Giggs. Saturday's performance would have delighted anybody, and I'm sure that Mark will use this game as a blueprint for the qualifying rounds. If we manage to use the non-start of the Serie A season to our advantage against the Italians, then I'm sure a win is on the cards.

The result in Finland was excellent and we should be able to progress from here to qualify for Euro 2004
M Jones, Wales

The side we had on Saturday was perfect for the conditions in Finland. We kept Bellamy on the bench for most of the game, and we also didn't start with Koumas, Earnshaw or Chris Coleman. We need to cement this defence to ensure water-tightness against the Azzuri. But if we play as a team and not as individuals, then a morale boosting win is on the cards.
Pete, Wales

Congratulations to Mark Hughes and the team on a thrilling result. I am so pleased, especially for "Super Sparky". What about coming on for 15 minutes in one game, Mark? That would be a real thrill! For now - Bring on the Italians!
John, Wales

One win does not get us qualified yet, so let's wait for the Italian game at home. We've come too close in the past to get excited this early. Come on boys, let's beat the Italians next.
Simon, Bahrain

Mark Hughes has done a great job as Wales Manager. He initially made the side very difficult to beat and has since progressed even further. The result in Finland was excellent and we should be able to progress from here to qualify for Euro 2004.
M Jones, Wales

Well done Wales. I am an Englishman and I was delighted to see the result. It would be tremendous to see the Welsh involved in the finals. No-one deserves it more than them - particularly Mark Hughes and Giggsy. Tremendous stuff lads. I am sure that all of England is rooting for you.
Chris Oxford, Dubai

Great stuff boys, at last Wales are playing as a team. Mark has done wonders for Welsh football over the last two years, he's given the players belief in themselves and he's not frightened to used the youngsters such as Simon Davies of Spurs.
Simon Thomas, United Arab Emirates

The team has been getting harder to beat, but to get to the next level they have to now turn those good draws into wins. The Finland result is the first step towards this. Obviously the real key is Giggs - when he plays he offers world-class flair and invention to a midfield that may otherwise struggle to get the best out of Bellamy and Hartson upfront. I do feel that with these three players fit and a well organised unit around them the Welsh could well give Italy and Yugoslavia a run for their money in Group Nine.
Adamski, USA



Links to more Sports Talk stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sports Talk stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales