Dec 5 (Reuters) - Wales factbox before the draw for the Euro 2016 finals in Paris on Dec. 12:
Seeding Pot for the draw:
How They Qualified:
Wales finished second in Group B, two points behind winners Belgium after an excellent qualifying campaign which, ironically, reached its zenith on the night they lost 2-0 to Bosnia in October.
Even though they were beaten, there were ecstatic scenes at the final whistle because Cyprus’ 2-1 win in Israel on the same night ensured Wales would finish either first or second and qualify for the finals automatically. It was their only defeat in 10 games which included a win and a draw against Belgium.
Coach Chris Coleman
Coleman, 45, succeeded his friend Gary Speed as Wales’ manager three months after Speed committed suicide in November 2011, but his reign got off to a bad start with five successive defeats.
Gradually, though, the foundations laid by Speed began to settle and under Coleman Wales have markedly improved to their highest ever FIFA world ranking of eighth this year. Coleman played 32 times for Wales but his playing career ended prematurely when he was unable to recover fully enough to play again after a car crash in 2001.
Wales’ chances of making an impression in the finals depend on how well the likes of Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Gareth Bale of Real Madrid, the world’s most expensive player, perform.
Bale is the outstanding star with seven goals in their 10 qualifiers, but Wales are far from a one-man show with the likes of Ramsey, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen, Ashley Williams and goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey all playing at the highest level in the Premier League.
Wales have reached only their second major finals having previously qualified for the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. The current squad has achieved something that eluded past greats such as Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, Mark Hughes and many others over the last six decades.
Since 1958 they have reached the last eight of the 1976 European championship when only four teams took part in the final tournament, and have also been knocked out of the playoffs for both World Cups and European finals.
William Hill odds to win Euro 2016:
66/1 (Compiled by Mike Collett in London, editing by Mark Meadows)