Coleman: World Cup hopes are over


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Wales manager Chris Coleman conceded his side's slim hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals are over after their 2-1 defeat to Croatia at the Liberty Stadium.

Wales had looked set to give themselves hope of reaching Brazil when Gareth Bale put them ahead from the spot with his fifth goal in six internationals.
But defender Dejan Lovren's fierce strike andEduardo's smart finish condemned Coleman's side to a loss which leaves them 10 points adrift of Group A pacesetters Belgium and Croatia, with just 12 points left available.
Coleman had targeted six points from the double header against Scotland and Croatia, and Wales' failure to meet that goal means the wait for a place at a first major finals since 1958 will go on.
He said: "We are gutted, even though we knew before the game we would be up against a very good team.
"We felt we could have come in 2-0 up, but we could not get that elusive second goal.
"We then probably defended too deep too early in the second half, because it is human nature to protect your lead against such a good team.
"We needed the three points if we were going to do anything in the group and give us an outside chance really. We are not going to qualify now."
While stung by the defeat Wales will be able to take plenty of positives from their performance. One of those plus points was the promising display of Crystal Palace youngster Jonathan Williams on his full debut.
The 19-year-old, nicknamed 'Joniesta' by one of his youth-team coaches at Palace, was a lively presence in midfield, and his lovely exchange with Joe Ledley led to the latter being brought down for Wales' penalty.
"In the next couple of trips you will be asking me about Johnny as much as you do about Gareth Bale," Coleman said. "He will go to another level and you can see why everyone is so excited. He's still got a lot of work to do but he's certainly a gifted player."
Having been pleased by the way his team have performed over the course of this international window, Coleman has demanded they go on to finish third in the group to give themselves a better chance of a good draw for the next European Championship.
"We are in our own mini-league now with Serbia and Macedonia and we need to finish top of that to put us in a better position for the next qualifiers," he said.
"We have to be heartened looking ahead. We have four games where we can get good points. We have a lot of good young players."