HIS long-cherished dream of lifting the China Cup may be have been dashed but Ryan Giggs can be quietly pleased with the start of his reign as Wales manager.

Giggs’ debut as an international boss last week was the equivalent of a slow full toss and his team duly hit the hosts for six in Nanning.

After that gentle opening, which was notable for Gareth Bale breaking Ian Rush’s national goals record and Chris Gunter overtaking Gary Speed as the most-capped outfield player, Wales were always going to be on more of a sticky wicket against Uruguay in yesterday’s final.

Barcelona star Luis Suarez and Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani duly ran the Welsh defence, marshalled by an out-of-form Ashley Williams, ragged at times.

Suarez hit the post twice in the first half before Cavani netted the only goal of the game four minutes after the restart thanks to an unselfish square ball from the influential Cristian Rodriguez.

And Real Madrid ace Bale was shackled superbly by the South American defence, led by Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin.

But there were plenty of positives for Wales, who competed well against a team with much more top-level experience.

Bale went close to breaking the deadlock in first-half stoppage time but he was denied by a fantastic save from Fernando Muslera, who also denied Sam Vokes, Andy King and substitute Lee Evans.

“Obviously it's not the result we wanted,” Bale told S4C. “We thought they were there for the taking. We had chances but their keeper made some very good saves as well.

“Ultimately we're disappointed, we felt we could have got more out of the game but it wasn't meant to be.

“We'll keep learning, we'll keep trying to progress and when the major games come around in the qualifiers, we'll be ready.

“There's a lot of positives to take out and it’s been a learning experience for us all.

“I think it will stand us in good stead for the future and I'm sure we'll win many more games.”

Over the two games Giggs handed debuts to Chris Mepham, Connor Roberts and Billy Bodin and brought the likes of Adam Matthews and Harry Wilson back into the fold.

There was an encouraging contribution from former Newport County AFC midfielder Evans, who looked at home against quality opposition.

And plenty of deserved praise for fellow Newport favourite Gunter who moved on to 87 caps yesterday, within five appearances of equalling Neville Southall's 92-game record.

Gunter could possibly break Southall's record by the end of the year as he closes in on becoming the first Welshman to play 100 times for his country.

But he was typically modest when discussing the tumbling records in China.

“There always seems to be another landmark,” said the 28-year-old Reading right-back.

“The caps I've always said is one thing, because you never think about it when you've lost.

“But what we've done in a lot of those games, especially over the last couple of years, and what I've been involved in outweighs the caps by a million miles for me.

“To be part of this last couple of years has given me the best days of my life. I'm extremely blessed to have that.”

And the early signs are that there could yet be more days to remember for Gunter and his international teammates over the next few years.

After another tune-up against Mexico in Pasadena in June, Giggs’ men will be forced to watch the World Cup on TV.

But with the likes of Arsenal ace Aaron Ramsey and young talent Ben Woodburn to return for the Nations League matches against Ireland and Denmark at the end of the year there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Congratulations are also due to Exiles academy stars Jay Foulston and Lewis Collins who both featured for the Wales under-19s in Croatia last week despite being just 17 and 16 respectively.

That recognition, as well as Evans’ progress at senior level and Regan Poole’s with the under-21s, is testament to the great work being done by the academy coaches at County.

Antigua and Barbuda international Calaum Jahraldo-Martin became the first current-County player to win a full cap since the 1980s last week – a feat that the likes of Foulston and Collins will hope to match one day.