Chris Coleman admitted his time as Wales manager might be coming to an end after the 1-0 win that put the Republic of Ireland into the World Cup play-offs and left his own team reflecting on an agonising end to their bid to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 1958.
Coleman’s contract runs out next summer and he has previously indicated this would be his last qualifying programme in charge of the team he led to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.
“If you ask any manager after a defeat, you want to be as far away from it as you can,” Coleman said when reminded of that statement. “It’s six years I’ve been in charge, or coming up to it at Christmas, and I can’t say right now about my future because I’m not thinking about it. I’m thinking about the fact there’s a dressing room full of devastated players and staff.
“The whole nation will be mourning and disappointed because, again, that elusive World Cup has passed us by. There’s a chance I can [stay] and a chance I won’t. I can’t give an answer right now. There will be a conversation in due course and there’s a friendly next month. My contract is until the summer but right now I’m thinking about the experience, I’ll go back to my family and take a bit of time. When the dust settles we’ll see where we go.”
James McClean’s 57th-minute winner meant Ireland go into the draw for the play-offs on 17 October, leaving Martin O’Neill celebrating one of the more satisfying nights of his time as national team manager.
“It didn’t seem that they troubled us that much,” O’Neill said. “When the ball was in the air we dealt with things reasonably well. When the ball was fizzed in a few times we had to defend but overall it was a great win against a Wales side who did so well at the Euros.
“I’ve never doubted the character of the players and their courage was never in doubt. Sometimes we can do better with the ball, but trying to qualify for the World Cup is a monumental task. I knew we’d fight back. And I don’t think anyone would want to play us in the play-offs.
“Do I fear teams in it? I don’t think we’d want to play Italy. I don’t think we’d want to play Portugal and there are six others I’d rather not, too. But I’m delighted to be there. I always fear them – and then we go out and beat them.”
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