Red and Blue jerseys made their way through Cardiff City in a way that has not been seen at Welsh qualifiers for some time. Wales expected and the fans came out in their droves, so too the Bosnian travelling support who looked like Cardiff City fans in their blue and white attire. Setting off at 2 o’clock and arriving at Clwb Ifach in the City centre at 3, we soaked up the singing of the fanatical die hard Wales support. Songs were sang and fans danced as the anticipation built.
Onto the game and a jittery first half by the Welsh was compounded by a Bosnia team that looked slick in possession. It took a string of Wayne Hennessey saves to deny the visitors an early lead and Wales only notable chance came when Gareth Bale tried to latch onto a through ball but couldn’t make the required contact.
The player that I was most impressed by was Bosnia’s Miralem Pjanic, also of Roma. He was always available for the ball and went about his business in a commanding manner. In the first period I also thought Muhamed Besic played well as he went on a bursting run that left two Welsh players drawing breath and it took a last ditch challenge to halt his tracks. For Wales, Jonny Williams was subject to some rough treatment which in many ways is a compliment to the diminutive midfielders craft in possession.
Wales has their own chances to win it late on when two Gareth Bale crosses were headed over by Hal Robson Kanu and Ashley Williams. Williams was the better of the chances and even he admitted he should have scored. Man of the moment, Gareth Bale, surged along the right of midfield as the game ran it’s course and troubled Begovic with a driven effort across the face of goal. The Stoke keeper tipping the ball behind for a corner.
If Wales are to end 50 years of hurt they are going to need to be more ruthless in front of goal. On the basis of it, last night was a tremendous performance against a side that will be vying for second place along with Wales and Israel. However chances must be taken when they come and the striker situation needs addressing.
For all his endeavour, Simon Church isn’t an international footballer. Running the channels is something I would expect any spritely forward to do and in fairness he has done this well. What concerns me is his complete lack of potency in the attacking third. I was sat directly behind the goals that the Wales players were taking shots at and I looked on bemused at the disregard for Tom Lawrence as an alternative. He can play on the wing or upfront although given Bale’s free role and tendency to drift out wide and Hal Robson Kanu’s pace on the flank, he would be better deployed upfront. Another that should be included is Harry Wilson.
It would be great if Wales could unearth a striker with Welsh ancestry in the way that Scotland have claimed Jordan Rhodes on residency. Whether you like it or not, countries are making use of this ruling that allows players to play for different countries to that of their birth and failure to do so leaves you at a disadvantage. Wales have done this well with Andy King, Ashley Williams, Jonny Williams, Sam Vokes, Simon Church and Hal Robson Kanu just some of the players representing Wales from the other side of the severn bridge.