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Verheijen backs Wales for World Cup
Published : 16 Nov 2011 15:47:01Rss feed
Assistant manager Raymond Verheijen believes Wales have a great chance of reaching a first major finals since 1958 when their World Cup qualifying campaign gets under way next year.
The Dragons are in the midst of a stunning revival under manager Gary Speed, which took its latest stride with Saturday's 4-1 dismantling of Norway, a side ranked 24th in the world, currently 21 places above Wales. The Cardiff City Stadium success was a fourth win in five games.
Dutchman Verheijen, who previously worked under Frank Rijkaard with Holland and Guus Hiddink with South Korea, said: "Absolutely, Wales can reach the World Cup."
Wales' Group A draw sees them pitted against Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland and Macedonia.
Verheijen added: "Basically when Gary and I came in we developed an approach and structure that was built on his experiences as a Wales player, and we developed a style of play where we wanted to keep the ball and we explained it in detail to the players.
"It was a long-term plan and everything was made very clear and the players know what to focus on, they have done really well so far and hopefully we can continue our progress.
"In terms of our World Cup group, the draw has helped us as when you draw the likes of Germany, Italy or Spain the other sides in the group are playing for second place. So you may have three teams going for that one spot.
"Obviously Croatia are a strong side but everyone in our group will be fighting for two places. We are strong at the moment and if we can keep that going we should be in with a good chance."
Speed and Verheijen came in to a Wales camp devoid of confidence after losing their first three fixtures in Euro 2012 qualifying. And while a role with the Dragons may have appeared a hard sell, Verheijen, who works with Wales on a consultancy basis, insists the ability of the players made it an easy decision.
He said: "To be honest, the technical ability of the players was the reason I took the job. When Gary approached me he gave me DVDs of some of Wales' games to watch, and although they were not performing you could see the potential. You just knew that they had the talent."