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No regrets for Bellamy over Wales outburst

Wales captain Craig Bellamy has said he stands by the damning comments he made after their World Cup qualifying defeat by Finland, insisting they’d motivate the side for Wednesday’s match against group leaders Germany.

Finland’s 2-0 win here at the Millennium Stadium last weekend left Wales struggling to get into even a play-off for next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa.

After that match, Manchester City striker Bellamy said: “That was two poor sides trying to contest this game and neither of us have got a glimmer of hope of qualifying.

“That is a fact, from what I’ve just seen today. Where we go from here, God knows. We’ve just got a lot of games to play and get as many points as we can but same old story, we’re out of the group.”

Some observers said Bellamy’s public condemnation of the team’s display was the last thing a largely youthful Wales side needed to hear as they tried to become the first team from the country to qualify for a major football finals since the 1958 World Cup.

However Bellamy, who is set to lead his side again at the Millennium Stadium against Germany, said Tuesday: “I stand by what I said after the game. Maybe I could have chosen my words differently, but I still very much believe in what I said. I could have worded it differently, but I have to put up with that.

“Sometimes you cannot be honest in football, you have to duck questions and be as diplomatic as you can.

“But for me that is not easy. I am emotional and I try to be honest as much as I can. Basically I do not like letting people off. We were all disappointed and frustrated, and I say things. I am old enough to know that such comments allow people to have a dig back, but I can handle that.”

And the 29-year-old added: “We must do a lot better now than we did against Finland, and that was the motivation for what I said.

“We are all going to come in for flak, we have virtually gone out of another campaign but we have to get on with it.”

Bellamy said playing at the Millennium Stadium, where Wales matches attract crowds of around the 20,000 mark in a ground that can hold over 73,000, left his side at a disadvantage.

The forward said Wales had to follow the example of Northern Ireland.

Another team with a relatively limited pool of players, they routinely packed out the much smaller Windsor Park in Belfast, where Northern Ireland, roared on by their fans, beat Poland last weekend.

“You watch Northern Ireland, they achieve results. You need to get into peoples’ faces, you need a battle,” Bellamy explained.

“We need an atmosphere and we haven’t got that (at the Millennium). And we are certainly not generating anything, how am I supposed to play in that.

“Teams like coming here. It is too nice for them. It is a very good stadium with empty seats and no pressure, no atmosphere. They just go out against us and just play how they like. We cannot force the issue.

“Northern Ireland are different. You know you are in for it, Windsor Park is a tough old place. The pitch isn’t good, the changing rooms are terrible and the atmosphere is fantastic even if they only have a small crowd.

“And you can see the players respond. I am a bit envious of that. But Northern Ireland have done nothing yet, even though they have just beaten Poland.

“They have fight and atmosphere, maybe the best support in Europe. It would be nice for us to be like that, we need to change things.”

Tue 31 March, 2009
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