It means the former defender is hugely popular with his country’s supporters who are already dreaming of a place at the 2018 World Cup. Coleman is equally desperate to make it to Russia, but ahead of his team’s crunch qualifier with Republic of Ireland in Dublin this evening (Friday), the 46-year-old has insisted he will not continue in his current role past next summer.
Coleman was linked with the Swansea job – his hometown club – earlier this year following the sacking of Bob Bradley. He remains likely to take a step into club management next, but remains fully focused on his current role in charge of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Co.
Wales face the Republic at the Aviva Stadium third in Group D, four points behind Martin O’Neill’s leaders. Coleman has played down the idea his team must win, but has made clear his desperation to end his time with Wales with a place at another major competition.
“I’m 46, so I want to work for as long as I can,” he said. “I’m only going to be Wales manager for a certain amount of time. You can’t get it back.
“I need to make the most of what I’ve got. When I finish here, I’ll go to a club job. I’ll never do this job again and I’m quite sad about it. But I’ll make the most of it while I’ve got the honour.
The Wales football team return to Cardiff
Fri, July 8, 2016
The welsh football team returns to Cardiff after reaching the semi-finals of the Euros
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Wales players and manager Chris Coleman wave to fans on a open top bus during the homecoming celebrations in Cardiff City centre.
“I’ve been doing it for five years and if I see this campaign through it will be six-and-a-half, seven years. I think that’s a long time as an international manager, but there’s still a lot to play for in this campaign.”
Coleman continued: “I’m desperate to make a tournament again. It’s the only word I can use – I’m desperate to go back and be in the middle of that type of pressure.
“I absolutely want that again. I don’t think about what happens if we lose. I’m always confident with my team. I think we can beat anybody.
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“People are saying this is a must-win, that it’s more important for us than Ireland. It’s not. Even if we were six points clear, this is the most important game because it’s our next challenge.
“This pressure is what we wished for, because halfway through the campaign we can still influence who finishes top. That’s the position we want to be in.”
Chris Coleman has reaffirmed when he will leave his post as Wales manager
Wales have a fully fit squad from which to choose, but Coleman will resist any urge to throw 17-year-old Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn into his starting line-up. One concern for the visitors is that five of their key players – including Gareth Bale, captain Ashley Williams and midfielder Joe Allen – are one yellow card away from a suspension. A booking in Dublin would see them miss June’s trip to Serbia.
“We will need to keep our discipline, like in any game,” Coleman said. “We have one or two guys close to a suspension, but I won’t be saying to them to be careful.
“We need to go out there and get the job done. We mustn’t hold back.”
As group leaders, Ireland are rightfully favourites, but Wales have lost just one of their last 16 qualifying games and there is a steely determination about Coleman’s camp.
A tight encounter is expected in front of a sold-out Dublin crowd.
Woodburn will be among Coleman’s substitutes and could win his first senior cap from the bench, if Wales are chasing the game in the second half. Bale, as usual, will be their main source of goals after netting four times in the qualifying campaign to date.
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Coleman said: “Whatever Ireland have planned for Gareth won’t surprise us, or him. Because of who is he and who he plays for, he’s used to dealing with anything that comes his way.
“I have a huge amount of trust in these players. Why wouldn’t I? If people want to put pressure on this game, that’s up to them, but there’s no chance I will.”
Captain Williams will form a five-man Welsh rear-guard, charged with keeping Ireland quiet.
He said: “We have moved on from our experiences of the Euros. Ireland are top of the group and have had a better competition than us so far. But if we play our best game, we will get the result.”
An intriguing battle awaits, with Wales determined to reach Russia, as much for Coleman as anyone else.
And if there is one thing Euro 2016 taught us, it’s that you underestimate them at your peril.