Can Wales still qualify for World Cup? '100%', says Coleman

Chris Coleman and Aaron Ramsey
Wales boss Chris Coleman consoles scorer Aaron Ramsey after having to settle for draw in Belgrade

Chris Coleman is confident Wales can still qualify for the 2018 World Cup after a hard-fought 1-1 draw in Serbia.

Sunday's result in Belgrade, their fifth draw in Group D, left Wales four points behind Serbia and the Republic of Ireland with four matches remaining.

"I know people look at our four points with four to play, can we bridge that gap? 100% we can bridge that gap," said Wales manager Coleman.

"We are looking forward to the challenges left in this campaign."

Coleman's side, without the suspended Gareth Bale, were heading for victory as Aaron Ramsey chipped the visitors ahead from the penalty spot in the 35th minute following a foul on Sam Vokes in the area.

But, like he did in Cardiff last November, Aleksandar Mitrovic denied Wales victory by netting a 73rd-minute equaliser.

Only the winners of the nine European World Cup qualifying groups will advance automatically to next year's finals in Russia, while the eight best runners-up enter the play-offs.

Wales' next qualifier is at home to Austria on Saturday, 2 September, followed by a trip to Moldova three days later.

Then there is a double-header to finish, a visit to Georgia on Friday, 6 October, before a home fixture against the Republic of Ireland the following Monday.

If Wales are to have any hope of qualifying automatically, Coleman believes his side need to win all four of their remaining fixtures.

"I think realistically if we want to finish first, [we need] four wins," he said.

"If we want to take our chance in a play-off it's at least three wins and a draw. Mathematically, that's probably what we need.

"But Serbia have to go to Ireland and they have to go to Austria, they can't all take three points. The group is still very much in the balance.

"We're still chasing, four points, but let's see what happens."

Aaron Ramsey
Aaron Ramsey's cheeky penalty had given Wales the lead in Belgrade

Wales took the lead in outrageous fashion in Belgrade as Ramsey scored with a dinked penalty.

Coleman's side were without several first-team players, including talisman Bale due to suspension.

But in the Real Madrid forward's absence, Ramsey rose to the occasion with an excellent individual display.

"I had no doubt he would score, but I didn't see that coming if I'm honest with you," Coleman said about the Arsenal midfielder's audacious penalty.

"But I had no doubt he'd score because he's playing with such confidence at the moment, his overall performance was absolutely outstanding.

"He seems to thrive on that responsibility, it's not the first time he's run a game for us. His input tonight was immense.

"If we didn't have him tonight I'm not sure we'd have come away with what we did because I thought when we needed someone to keep the ball, hold it and give us a rest he did that.

"He was absolutely fantastic. And the penalty - the noise the supporters make here is incredible, but it didn't matter to him. Full of confidence and a fantastic finish."


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