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Latest news - September 1999.
 Mark Hughes to be given the job full-time?
Mark Hughes is likely to be given the job as full-time Wales manager before the last Euro 2000 qualifier against Switzerland. The next full FAW meeting is not scheduled until after the Swiss game, but Hughes has been asked to meet the FAW committee next week.

What Mark Hughes said:

“I have received no indication that the FAW wants me to carry on,”

“Maybe something will be said when I meet the international committee."

“I thoroughly enjoyed being in charge for the last match and want to keep the job very much.”

Tuesday, September 28th 1999.

 Delay in naming squad for Swiss match.
Mark Hughes has delayed in naming his squad for the last Euro 2000 qualifier. Ryan Giggs is the only serious doubt. Goalkeeper Mark Crossley and Mark Delaney have both recovered from injury. Robbie Savage and John Hartson will return. The squad will be announced on Monday.

Saturday, September 25th 1999.

 Ryan Giggs out for six weeks.
Ryan Giggs is out of the final Euro 2000 qualifier against Switzerland. He damaged his right hamstring against Wimbledon on Saturday, and a scan has revealed he will be out for six weeks.

Monday, September 20th 1999.

 Reaction to the Italy v Denmark Euro 2000 qualifier.
What Mark Pembridge said:

"It was so disappointing, for us to have got the result we did in Belarus on Saturday, and then four days later to have all the hope destroyed like that by Denmark's win in Italy."

"For Italy to lose a 2-0 lead anywhere is a shock, I'm gutted and I know the rest of the lads are."

"Our hopes were really raised, we got what we deserved in Minsk, so to be knocked back so quickly has been hard to take.

"After seeing Italy 2-0 up, it's still a hell of a shock. I put the score up on Teletext, and I just couldn't believe it."

What Eddie Niedzwiecki said:

"I'm very disappointed; I can still see the smiling faces in the dressing-room on Saturday"

"The results over the group have cost us rather than just one game, but we will still have a lot to play for in Wrexham - pride, points and the chance to prove to the Welsh public that we are on the right lines."

Friday, September 10th 1999.

 Mark Hughes to be full time within a month?
Mark Hughes could be confirmed as new full time Welsh manager within a month. A FAW council meeting has been fixed for October 14th less than a week after the final Euro 2000 qualifier against Switzerland.

What FAW member David Griffiths said:

"Everyone was impressed by Mark."

Wednesday, September 8th 1999.

 Belarus 1 Wales 2. Match reaction.
What Mark Hughes said:

"This has to be one of the proudest moments in my career. It's certainly the highlight of my managerial career! When I think about the moment when I realised we'd won it gets me there - emotionally."

"I was a lot more nervous than I was as a player. It's definitely the highlight of my managerial career!"

"It's very different watching from the dugout but I felt quite emotional. It would have been impossible for me to play today."

"I haven't retired as an international player so it's possible I could play in the future. But I would doubt it."

"A draw would probably have done my cause a lot of good but we needed the win for the Euro 2000 campaign."

"I've said that I want the job and I don't think this would have done me any harm at all. I had to make a quick start as I only had two games and I hope I've made the right impression."

"I've told the players that if they can trust in us we will trust in them and we can go forward together."

"I still get emotional thinking about it and Giggs' goal was just wonderful to watch. It was a fantastic header which needed a lot of skill."

"It shows how much potential there is in this side. If they trust in me and I trust in them, we can go forward. That's why I want this job on a permanent basis"

"Ryan was magnificent today but I want to make it clear that that was along with 10, 11, 18 other players in the squad."

"We are delighted, not just for me but for my staff and my players to win in such difficult circumstances."

What Eddie Niedzwiecki said:

"We wanted to treat the players how we would have appreciated to have been treated as players."

"Obviously it is important that they understand what Mark, Eric and myself wanted from them. You saw yourself the response they gave out on the field. We're all thrilled but also shattered because we have worked so hard. We're pleased to have been given the chance and if we can keep the response going hopefully we can carry on."

What FAW secretary general David Collins said:

"You have to go back a long way to remember the last time we played as we did on Saturday. It was magnificent stuff and Mark has been superb."

"You have to go some way for a similar performance, where we played as well as that.

"Mark has been superb. To bond the team like that after the disappointments against Denmark and Italy, and away from home as well."

What Gary Speed said:

"This was the result Welsh football needed. Hopefully this is the start of a new era and to get off to a start like that is just great."

"But we don't want to get carried away, there's so much hard work still be done and we aim to take the spirit from this game into the final group match against Switzerland."

"It's obvious the squad want Mark to have the job. They respect him enormously, whatever he says to us the lads just accept it and go out on the pitch to do it. And that's what happened against Belarus."

"It would be very hard to change managers again now. We have learned so much in this one week with Mark coming in, and with the advice and help of Eddie and Eric for someone else to come in after the next game, we would be back to square one again."

"We would not be able to carry on from what we have achieved and learned."

"We still feel we can qualify, but if we don't then we know we haven't lost it out in Minsk, we lost it in Switzerland and Italy. But we now hope the results go for us and it leaves us to beat Switzerland at home in our last match to reach the play-offs."

"We'd settle for that and give it our best shot."

"This is the best result we have achieved in recent years, and it has come from the good organisation and the team being so solid. Everyone was happy in the game and happy with what their job was."

"Mark gave a very motivational team talk, short and sweet but he got across what he expected from people wearing a Wales shirt."

"People listen to someone like him. He has done everything you can do in the game, the respect is instant and you want to do it for him."

"He was very knowledgable about the game, and you could see that everyone was agreeing with what he was saying. He's played all over Europe at the top level under great managers so he must have learned a lot along the way."

"The feeling in the dressing room at the break was full of optimism. We had been getting on top in the final minutes of the first half and got our equaliser"

What Dean Saunders said:

"Mark's talk was impressive. He just said that some people are winners, and some are losers. So let's go out and prove that we are winners."

Monday, September 6th 1999.

 Latest news on Belarus v Wales.
Ryan Giggs believes Mark Hughes should be given the manager's job full-time. Sparky has been given the job for the two remaining games of Euro 2000, but Ryan believes that if Hughes is given the job permanently, he can restore the pride back in Welsh football.

Friday, September 3rd 1999.

The flight carrying the team and supporters was thrown into chaos when 14 fans were ejected because it was too heavy. The flight from Stansted airport was delayed for two and half hours as kit, food and water had to be taken off. It was still too heavy so the FAW had to ask 14 fans to stay behind. They were offered overnight accommodation and a flight to Minsk on Friday. Later an alternative flight via Frankfurt was arranged.

Thursday, September 2nd 1999.

Robbie Savage is out of the Euro 2000 clash with Belarus in Minsk on Saturday. He has damaged a groin muscle in his club's 1-0 win over Watford on Monday.

Matthew Jones has celebrated his birthday with a call-up to the senior squad.

Wednesday, September 1st 1999.

Belarus will be missing several key players. Midfielder Miroslav Romeshchenko and Dynamo Kiev pair Belkovich and Khatskevich are missing through injury. Defender Yakhimovich is suspended.

John Hartson is the only withdrawal from the senior squad assembling ahead of Saturday Euro 2000 qualifier. Norwich City striker Iwan Roberts has been drafted in as replacement.

Tuesday, August 31st 1999.

 Quotes ahead of Saturday's match.

Mark Hughes ahead of Saturday's match:

"Belarus are a good side but we're working on their weaknesses and looking to exploit them."

"It's the biggest surprise for us all that Belarus have fared so poorly because apart from Italy they've impressed us most."

"Obviously I'm delighted that the squad has arrived virtually intact. They say you have to be lucky to get almost all your selected players together, well, we will see how lucky I am on Saturday."

"There's been a good attitude, nice and bright laughing and joking. But when we are working hard it will be serious."

"I've had no problems stepping over from player to management."

"Mind you, I've not picked my first side yet, maybe they won't be so happy then."

"If we win our games we still have to await other results. But we are determined to give ourselves the best chance we can with the best results we can."

Dean Saunders on Mark Hughes becoming manager:

"I never expected Mark would become a manager because he's so quiet."

"Not because he hasn't got the credentials - he has - but his first job is being manager of Wales."

"But sometimes I think it's easier to be a manager at this level than it is to go and be a manager of a club like York or somewhere else in the lower divisions."

"Mark knows everything you need to know about international football."

"He's played in more games than most of the other managers."

"He knows the players and he knows what it takes to win games at this level. He's been playing with top internationals for most of his career, so he knows what's needed."

"He'd find it hard to work out what would be his best team at York."

"The difference for Mark is that he's now having to think about the game and everything surrounding it all the time."

"As a player you just jump on the bus and leave that to someone else."

"But these first few days with him have been excellent and we've all enjoyed it."

"He asks the senior players for their advice and whether we like what's being done."

"The coaches, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Eric Harrison, have been the same and what has happened so far has left the lads very impressed."

"Just simple basic things have been done and immediately everyone knows what's expected of them."

"Mark is more single-minded than people think. He's as placid as they come but you can see in the way he plays that he's got that streak in him that says if you push him you'll come off second best."

Minsk flight chaos.

"We have been dumped, The Welsh FA seemed more concerned about getting the FA Cup final to Cardiff than looking after their hard-core fans."

"The majority of us have been everywhere with Wales and this is how we are treated."

Robbie Savage injury blow:

"I'm really upset. This is the start of a new era for Wales under Mark, and I desperately wanted to be involved."

"But although I finished the game with Watford, afterwards I was in a lot of pain and I feared then that it would rule me out for Wales."

"I missed the last game against Denmark through injury, and was suspended for the one before that against Italy. I'm really disappointed to miss this one as well."

Ryan Giggs his thoughts:

"We all hope this will be the turning point for Wales with a new management team in place."

"What we have to recognise is that we haven't got the quality players in depth that other countries have got."

"We need to beat other countries with our unity and to play as a team."

"We have to believe we can still qualify for Euro 2000 via the play-offs, but other results have to go for us."

"All we can do is concentrate on this one game in Belarus and do our very best to beat them. If we do that we know we still have a real chance."

"You have got to have unity and team spirit, and there has been an emphasis on that in our first training sessions under Mark."

"We have not been good enough, sometimes we have had injuries and we haven't got the quality in depth other teams have got."

"We need to keep a fit squad, 16 or 17 players who are fit for every game."

"It's hard enough to beat international teams but it's worse when we keep having to come back from a goal behind."

"It's been a bit strange calling him gaffer after years of calling him Sparky. I do hope he gets the job permanently."

“The main thing about Sparky is that he’s been a winner. You can see that in the teams he has played for and, as an individual, the important goals he has scored."

“He never gives up. That’s the main quality he will bring to international management."

“He also has the experience of playing at the very top level. You need that, too."

“You need experience of playing abroad, which he has done, and the experience of playing with teams like Manchester United and Chelsea at the very top level for so long."

“He has all those qualities, which I’m sure he will take on into management. Everyone knows the qualities he has got. Hopefully he can take that on now and be a top manager. I would like him to get the job permanently, not just for these two games.”

“We all hope this will be the turning point for Wales with a new management team in place."

“We still have a slim chance in the European championships, but after that we have the World Cup qualifiers. There’s so much to look forward to."

“I’m not going to tell you that we will qualify for the next World Cup, but I do hope that one day we do what we have not been able to do for many years - qualify for the finals of a major championship."

“Euro 2000 is not out of the question, but then we have the next World Cup to look forward to.”

Mark Delaney on being in the Welsh squad:

"It's hard to take in what has happened to me, but all I know is that every day at this level is improving my game."

"Looking back it's been a massive change for me, but I've loved every minute. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, but it still just great to be involved at this level, with both Wales and Aston Villa."

Gary Speed on Belarus:

"We've watched videos of how Belarus play at home and we know they're full of players who are with Dynamo Kiev and Dynamo Moscow."

"We know that they're top players and they proved that in the first game at Cardiff when we won 3-2."

"We're very surprised that they're bottom of the group because the way they played that night impressed many people."

"Technically they're good, but psychologically they're week. They'll remember we came from behind to win last time and it will bother them."

Mark Hughes on being Welsh manager:

"I've gone as far as I can go as a player. If I want to succeed as a manager I have to be prepared to tackle the job at this level."

"I know I'm going into it with no experience and that there is some risk. In fact, this opportunity has come a lot sooner than I expected, but it's one I could not let go and I'm prepared to take whatever criticism comes my way."

"I don't care whether I was first, second or 10th choice,"

"I'm just proud to have the job. I feel I'm coming in with a unique insight, not only because I'm still playing Premiership football, but because I have played shoulder-to-shoulder with the current Welsh players and realise the problems they face."

"Our aim has to be to qualify for a major tournament, as the two Irish teams have in the past. But each year it gets harder. At the moment we get turned over in embarrassing ways and we have to start competing more."

"I believe there is a good crop of Welsh-qualified players coming through"

"For years we have had to recruit from lower division clubs. Now, some youngsters, like Mark Delaney of Aston Villa and Matthew Jones of Leeds, are making it in the Premiership."

'It is a big step from there into international football, but far easier than trying to make it from the lower divisions."

"My main job will be to give the team a better system to work with. Welsh teams have always been famous for their fervour, but it has often worked against us."

"We have over-stretched in attack and then found it difficult to close down the opposition. We need a new tactical framework."

Owf '11' for Minsk:

Delaney Page Coleman Barnard  
Robinson Savage Speed(c) Pembridge  

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