Soccer

Rob Page expects Wales to take positives from stalemate into crunch Latvia clash

Wales manager Rob Page felt there were plenty of positives to take from the goalless draw with South Korea (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Wales manager Rob Page felt there were plenty of positives to take from the goalless draw with South Korea (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Rob Page believes Wales are heading into their crunch Euro 2024 qualifier in Latvia with renewed confidence after holding South Korea to a Cardiff draw.

Wales have now won only once in 13 games, but Page accentuated the positives after a goalless stalemate against opponents who reached the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“There’s lots of positives and we take that momentum and confidence into a tough game on Monday,” Page said after Wales had returned to action following damaging Euro 2024 qualifying defeats by Armenia and Turkey in June.

“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.

“We’ve kept a clean sheet against a technically good team with one of the best strikers (Son Heung-min) in world football, and at the end we could have won it 1-0 with Kieffer’s header.”

Substitute Kieffer Moore almost broke the deadlock after 66 minutes when his header came back off a post.

Skipper Aaron Ramsey, who has just entered the action on the hour, was unable to prod home the rebound from a yard out.

Wales v South Korea – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
Brennan Johnson (right) and Lee Ki-je (left) battle for the ball during the goalless draw between Wales and South Korea in Cardiff (Joe Giddens/PA)

Brennan 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 said: “There’s been lots said since the last camp. 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. The transition we’re in, we’ve lost some world-class players.

“You would have seen the reaction of the players. I’m really pleased with them.

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

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

Wales v South Korea – International Friendly – Cardiff City Stadium
South Korea manager Jurgen Klinsmann (left) believes his team are growing with each game (Zac Goodwin/PA)

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

Jurgen 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.”