THE star names in Belgium’s squad may have been causing some Welsh fans to break out in a cold sweat but they have been a source of comfort for a legend of the game.
Chris Coleman’s side start their World Cup qualifying campaign at the Cardiff City Stadium tonight but plenty of focus has been on the visitors.
Belgium boast a wealth of Premier League talent in the shape of Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas, Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen and Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.
They head into the game fresh from a 4-2 drubbing of World Cup finalists Holland and are fancied to top a tough group that also includes Croatia, Serbia, Scotland and Macedonia.
But legendary goalkeeper Neville Southall, who won a record 92 caps, believes Wales will rise to the challenge.
“I’d be really worried if we were playing Moldova because they’ve got nobody you’ve ever heard of,” said the former Everton great.
“That’s when we struggle but we do well against good teams and I expect us to do well tonight. It’s easier to build the players up and the fans are excited while if we had San Marino they probably wouldn’t bother turning up.
“It gets on my nerves the way that as a country we put ourselves down – Wales have every chance tonight.
“We are underdogs but I think it’s geared up for a good result because we have plenty of players that can produce one flash of brilliance to win it.
“Belgium might have a load of quality players in the Premier League but Wales have more players in the Premier League than we have for ages.
“When you’ve got the likes of Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen in your side you have every chance.
“The first 20 minutes will be massive. If we can stay in the game and don’t give an early goal away then all it needs to take is one set piece or a bit of Bale magic.”
- Southall was speaking to promote his book ‘The Binman Chronicles’ and will be signing copies at Waterstones in Newport tomorrow at 10.30am.