Craig Bellamy: Wales squad is best since 1958 World Cup

WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING, GROUP A: WALES V MACEDONIA

  • Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
  • Date: Friday, 11 October
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and online; highlights on Match of the Day Wales on BBC Two Wales at 23:05 BST

Craig Bellamy believes the Wales squad is the best since the country last reached a World Cup in 1958.

The Cardiff City forward will retire from international football after the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, which Wales go into bottom of their group.

But Bellamy, 34, says he is leaving a squad of "world-class players", such as Real Madrid's £85m signing Gareth Bale.

"This group of players is a better group than any of the groups down the 50-odd years," said Bellamy.

Fifa 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A

Played Won Points

Belgium

8

7

22

Croatia

8

5

17

Serbia

9

3

11

Scotland

9

2

8

Macedonia

8

2

7

Wales

8

2

6

"We have so many world-class players now but also we have strength in depth, which we haven't had. The quality of players we've got - this is not like teams down the years."

Wales have not qualified for a major tournament since their appearance at the World Cup in Sweden 55 years ago.

That squad - which reached the quarter-finals - included Welsh greats Jack Kelsey, John and Mel Charles, Ivor Allchurch and Cliff Jones.

The current national side are bottom of their World Cup Qualifying group with two games of the campaign left against Macedonia and Belgium.

"I haven't qualified for a major tournament because my teams haven't been good enough and I haven't been good enough. That's the simple fact.

"We have to get out of that routine of 'poor old Wales' and 'unlucky'. I'm fed up with it. We owe it to this group of players now."

Chris Coleman's preparations for Friday's qualifier against Macedonia at Cardiff City Stadium have been disrupted by injuries.

Winger Bale, the Swansea pair of captain Ashley Williams and left-back Ben Davies and Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley are among the players missing - and Bellamy admits their absence is a blow.

"There's no denying that the type of players we've lost would have a huge impact on any team," Bellamy added.

"It shouldn't really get in the way of getting a positive result against Macedonia. There's no excuses in this game.

"We can't finish bottom - this group of players can't. For me it just can't happen."

Wales squad:

W Hennessey (Wolves), B Myhill (West Brom), O Fôn Williams (Tranmere), C Gunter (Reading), N Taylor (Swansea), D Alfei (Swansea), J Wilson (Bristol City), R Wiggins (Charlton), A Richards (Huddersfield), D John (Cardiff), A King (Leicester), A Ramsey (Arsenal), D Vaughan (Sunderland), L Isgrove (Southampton), O Tudur Jones (Hibernian), S MacDonald (Bournemouth), D Cotterill (Doncaster), C Bellamy (Cardiff), S Church (Charlton), H Robson-Kanu (Reading), S Vokes (Burnley), J Easter (Crystal Palace).