Chris Coleman feels Wales must win their remaining four qualifiers to top their World Cup group.
The Wales manager saw his team held to a 1-1 draw by Group D leaders Serbia in Belgrade on Sunday night after Aaron Ramsey’s outrageous penalty had given them a half-time lead.
Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised 17 minutes from time to keep Serbia four points ahead of third-placed Wales with four games to play.
The Republic of Ireland stay second level on points with Serbia after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Austria.
“I think, realistically, if we want to finish first, (we need) four wins,” Coleman said after Wales drew their fifth game in succession.
“If we want to take our chance in a play-off it’s at least three wins and a draw. Mathematically, that’s probably what we need.
“But Serbia have to go to Ireland and they have to go to Austria, they can’t all take three points.
“The group is still very much in the balance. We’re still chasing, four points, but let’s see what happens.”
Wales will resume their programme at home to Austria and away to bottom-placed Moldova in September. Their final game will be against the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff on October 9.
Joe Allen will be missing for the Austria game in Cardiff after picking up a second booking in the competition.
But at least Coleman should be able to call on Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale, who missed the frenetic Belgrade draw through suspension.
“We’ll be happier with a point than Serbia, but I’ve got mixed emotions really,” Coleman said.
“We took the lead, but this is such a tough place to come to play and Serbia are a good team.
“I think we learned a lot from Serbia five years ago when we were beaten heavily (6-1 in Novi Sad), so we knew we had to come here and play hard.
“We had a game plan and the players stuck to that, I’m really proud of them.
“I felt at the end we were looking to win it, we had two or three breakaways where it could have been different.”
Ramsey’s 35th-minute “Panenka” penalty could not have come at a more apposite venue.
For Czechoslovakia’s Antonin Panenka chipped his way into football folklore when he scored the shoot-out winner against West Germany in the 1976 European Championship final in Belgrade.
But not only was Ramsey’s spot-kick at the same ground once known as the Red Star Stadium, it was actually taken at the same end.
“I’m pretty sure that he (Ramsey) probably hasn’t even seen it,” manager Coleman said of the Panenka spot-kick.
“It’s identical. It’s what we thought as soon as he did it.
“But I don’t think that would have been in Aaron’s thinking.
“I didn’t see that coming if I’m honest with you. But I had no doubt he’d score because he’s playing with such confidence at the moment, his overall performance was absolutely outstanding.”