Robert Page insists Wales will fear no one at the World Cup after producing a ‘statement’ performance against Belgium.
Wales had to rely on a controversial Brennan Johnson equalizer to draw 1-1 with Belgium and clinch their first Nations League point after losing to Poland and Holland.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez says Johnson’s first Wales goal, initially flagged as offside but then held after a lengthy VAR check, should have been ruled out.
But manager Page hailed the way Wales performed against the world’s number two-ranked side, saying his side were in fine form five months from meeting England, Iran and the United States. United at the World Cup in Qatar.
“It was the first opportunity to put a team with an eye on the World Cup,” Page said.
“On both sides of the final (of the World Cup play-offs), we were affected because of this game.
“It was a different story. I thought we were going to compete.
It shows how far we’ve come as a group. We fear no one in world football
Wales manager Robert Page
“Nothing against the other teams we’ve faced because we should have gotten draws in those games.
“But it shows how far we’ve come as a group. We fear no one in world football.
“It’s a reference, another statement. When we are a goal behind, we don’t give up and we continue. We will face anyone.
Wales complete their grueling June schedule in the Netherlands on Tuesday, their fifth game in 14 days.
Page has already lost Kieffer Moore to injury, and Joe Allen (hamstring), Joe Morrell (broken toe) and Danny Ward (knee) are all expected to miss the Nations League return with the Dutch.
Ben Davies and Connor Roberts also came out against Belgium out of fatigue and could take a break at Stadion Feijenoord in Rotterdam.
It also remains to be seen whether skipper Gareth Bale or Aaron Ramsey will play on Tuesday.
Juventus midfielder Ramsey struggled with injury during a loan spell from Rangers in the second half of the season, and his only start for Wales this month came in the final World Cup play-offs against Ukraine.
But he showed his worth by creating seven chances, one more than the entire Belgium team combined, and produced sublime skill to set up Johnson’s leveler.
“What we asked Aaron to do is contrary to what he normally does,” Page said of Ramsey, who replaced the injured Allen after 36 minutes at the Cardiff City Stadium.
“We wanted him higher up the pitch and ended up with three 10s there. Fortunately it worked.
Johnson also made a huge impact after coming on for Bale 17 minutes from time.
The 21-year-old took his goal with the same composure that made him a standout performer as Nottingham Forest won promotion to the Premier League in the just-concluded domestic season.
“He’s got incredible pace and an incredible personality,” Martinez said.
“He loves playing on the last man and he is always a threat.
“You can see he has a very bright future, especially now next season playing at the highest level.”