Rob Page

Jurgen Klinsmann, head coach of Korea Republic, hugs Wales coach Rob Page. Pic: Getty Images

Rob Page Insists Wales Have Stopped The Rot . . . And Can Regain The Plot In Latvia


By Gareth James

Rob Page insisted the game he didn’t want gave him the outcome he needed.

The Wales manager saw his team keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at home to South Korea in a friendly that was still fully contested.

After conceding six goals in two disastrous games in June and in suffering nothing more than minor niggling injuries ahead of their crunch Euro 2024 qualifier in Latvia on Monday, Page was entitled to feel satisfied.

His side may have fired blanks, but keeping Son Heung-min and his Korean teammates subdued felt like a decent night’s work.

Wales fans may not see the glass as half full, but then Page needs all the optimism he can muster after just one win in 13 matches.

The man who took Wales to their first World Cup in 64 years knows he’s now under the cosh after Euro defeats to Armenia and Turkey in June and said: “Everybody’s entitled to their opinion. It’s not a problem.

“I know what I’ve got in the changing room and the staff room. It’s about winning games of football, I get that.

“But the transition we’re in, we’ve lost some world-class players. You saw the reaction of the players tonight against a very good team with one of the best strikers in world football.

“I’m really pleased with them. I’m proud of how we defended. That was back to our identity.

“I didn’t want this game. I didn’t want any injuries and I stick by that. But it’s played, it’s done, we’ve got a load of positives and we take that into Monday.

“JJ (Jordan James) has had a very good debut and he’s had that experience under his belt against a world-class team.

“It’s building confidence ahead of Monday and getting rid of the disappointment of June’s camp.

“They’ve reacted in a positive way. We’ve had meetings through the week regards to the defenders and the goals we’ve conceded.”

Wales might have won had Keiffer Moore’s second-half header not struck the post. Skipper Aaron Ramsey, who has just entered the action on the hour, was unable to prod home the rebound from a yard out.

They also forced Korean keeper Kim Seung-gyu into a superb save to deny Harry Wilson.

Son – who spent 45 minutes in a duel with his new Tottenham teammate Brennan Johnson until half-time – had a couple of efforts from long range, but neither troubled Wales keeper Danny Ward.

Johnson played the first 45 minutes after completing a £47.5million move from Nottingham Forest to Tottenham on deadline day as Page selected a far stronger side than most had expected before their Latvia test in Riga.

Page added: “That’s the level of performance we reached in March, away against Croatia and at home against Latvia.

“We didn’t meet those standards in June and that’s what disappointed me the most, but we were back to those standards here.”

Korea manager Jurgen Klinsmann said: “We wanted to create, but Wales defended well and were very difficult to break down.”

Klinsmann was appointed as South Korea head coach in February and has failed to win any of his five games in charge – drawing three and losing two.

“It was a very good test for us and I am pleased with what the players showed,” said Klinsmann, the former Germany and United States boss.

“Wales had a back five that was very difficult to break. As a team we want to see development, we want to see them grow and every game helps us.

“This is the moment in these friendly games to try these things out, you can see that the team has changed since my first game in March.”


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