WELSH soccer chiefs will today crank up the heat on European football's governing body not to introduce an 11th hour decision to seed play-off teams bidding for a Euro 2004 finals spot.

If UEFA's executive committee agree to turn their backs on an open draw adopted in previous years and seed teams, Mark Hughes' resurgent Wales will be disadvantaged due to their lowly world ranking position and results against teams in their group.

The seeding process will be designed to keep European football's major forces apart in the play-off rounds so that the higher-profile teams have an 'easier' passage to next summer's finals in Portugal.

Privately UEFA want the likes of the Netherlands and Spain, two of the world's elite set in the play-off lottery, at the European Championship finals to give the tournament the highest profile possible.

But the defiant Football Association of Wales say they will fight the seeding issue to the wire and have warned UEFA they would consider an appeal if it was introduced.

Wales' 1-1 Group Nine draw with Finland at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday confirmed they will almost certainly be in the two-leg play-offs, set to be staged on November 15/16 and 18/19.

UEFA's executive committee will decide their course of action at a meeting in Bratislava next week.

But Wales' Newport-raised striker Nathan Blake, 31, fumed: "UEFA cannot possibly decide whether or not to seed play-off teams at this late stage - that is totally unfair on everyone, especially the smaller teams like Wales.

"It would make it more difficult for us to qualify for the finals, sure, but we've overcome hurdles in the past and I'm confident we could do it again.

"On the other hand, all the teams in the play-offs would be quality after finishing runners-up in their groups so it won't be easy. However, we're up for the battle," promised the Wolverhampton Wanderers man.