Coleman hails 'devastating' Bale

  • Last Updated: October 15 2012, 18:31 BST

Chris Coleman would not swap Gareth Bale for any other player - but was keen to stress that Wales are not a one-man team.

Gareth Bale: Coleman's game-changer

Bale was the star of Friday's come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Scotland in Cardiff, earning and converting an 81st-minute penalty before smashing home the winner with a minute of normal time remaining to secure the Dragons their first points in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The 23-year-old winger also scored in Wales' previous Group A match, the 6-1 reverse in Serbia, direct from a free-kick.

That was their only other goal of the campaign - they lost their opener 2-0 at home to Belgium - and in the six matches in total they have now played since Coleman was appointed in January, with the Scotland result having ended a run of five consecutive defeats.

The former Fulham boss has no doubt Bale is the real game-changer in his side, and says there is no player he would rather have at his disposal.

While singling out the Tottenham man for praise, though, Coleman has also been eager to ensure the efforts of the rest of the Wales team do not go unheralded.

Asked if he would swap Bale for anyone, Coleman - speaking ahead of Tuesday's clash with Croatia in Osijek - said: "No, I wouldn't to be fair.

"Everybody sees when he is with the ball how devastating he is. But his work rate is excellent as well and he is just a nice boy.

"He plays with loads of passion and on top of that, he has incredible ability. So I'd be crazy - who are you going to swap him with?"

When he was then asked if he felt Wales were overly reliant on Bale, Coleman said: "He has (scored all three of the team's goals in the campaign), but you look at our performance on Friday and it wasn't just Baley.

"He got the goals, but there were some terrific performances. I'm not talking about Gareth all the time - you lot are!

"People are talking about him because he is a show-stopper - they pay money to come and watch him play.

"But we have another 10 players who play their part.

"When you have a player who can make the difference, you have to use that, but equally, we had to work hard for 90 minutes to make sure we were still in the game.

"They all played their part so we could put ourselves in a position where we knew if we got one or two chances, with someone like that (Bale), he could turn the game around - which he did.

"I was delighted with everybody to be honest."

Having moved off the bottom of Group A up to fourth with Friday's win, Wales are looking to build upon that performance against Croatia, who are currently second, level on seven points with leaders Belgium.

Coleman believes his team can keep their momentum going and pull off a result in Osijek, although he has warned that lessons must be taken from the thrashing in Novi Sad last month.

"They (Croatia) are a good team littered with good players," Coleman said.

"It is good for us to go there off the back of a win and a good performance.

"Nevertheless, I think we must learn from the last double-header - Belgium was a good performance even though we lost, and then we were poor against Serbia.

"We can't repeat that. It is a tough, tough game for us, but one we think we can get something out of."

Defender Adam Matthews could be in line for a return to action in Tuesday's game.

Matthews, who missed the Scotland match due to an ankle problem, has travelled with the squad to Osijek and will be assessed ahead of kick-off.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the campaign in Friday's contest, with Dave Edwards having been called up in his place.

Meanwhile, Croatia coach Igor Stimac has been using his official Facebook page to gather advice from supporters on who should be in his squad.

"I am opening a discussion regarding Tuesday's match against Wales," he wrote

"What is your ideal team for that match? What system would you apply against Wales? 4-3-3? Bring it on!"


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