Chris Coleman dismisses notion that Wales were ‘lucky’ at Euro 2016

‘Our players handled the pressure, so that’s not luck’, says Wales manager

Chris Coleman has dismissed Marcel Koller's suggestion Wales were lucky at Euro 2016 and in a carefully worded response implied the Austria coach was in charge of a team who "couldn't handle the pressure in the tournament".

Speaking before tonight's World Cup Group D qualifier in Vienna, Koller said Wales "were lucky that a match did not turn in another direction" in France, prompting Coleman to defend his players.

“I wouldn’t put our semi-final achievement down to luck,” he said. “You can get lucky over 90 minutes sometimes, but you don’t achieve [a semi-final] by being lucky, that’s for sure. We had a little bit of luck here and there, we had bad luck. But the reason for our achievements is because we’re a good team.

Big reputations

“A lot of teams went into the tournament with big reputations because they had fantastic [qualification] campaigns, but they couldn’t handle the pressure in the tournament. Our players handled the pressure, so that’s not 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.

Coleman claimed he had no intention of using Koller’s comments as part of his team-talk. “These boys know what is at stake,” he said, looking across at Ashley Williams, the captain. “One thing we don’t do is worry or concentrate on anybody who has anything to say about us.

“You hear all sorts of stories being said about us, about how we work, which are not necessarily true. We concentrate on ourselves, we know the gameplan, we know we need to stick to that. We give all opposition respect. But it’s all about us.”

The match is taking place at the Ernst Happel Stadion, which is where Coleman marked his Wales debut with a goal back in 1992. Around 4,000 travelling fans have travelled to Vienna for the game, which is Wales' first away from home since Euro 2016.

Tactics

Koller said that Austria will mark

Gareth Bale

tightly – “We will not only have one player on him, we will have two or three players in close vicinity for 90 minutes to try to disturb him” - but Coleman has no qualms about those tactics.

“That’s normal, that’s what he faces every week with Madrid and with us. We played Hazard and Ronaldo and you can work as much as you like defensively and shut them out for 89 minutes, but in a split second they can change everything. That’s what Bale can do.”

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. Guardian Service