CARDIFF (Reuters) - Wales manager Chris Coleman said he would “let the dust settle” before deciding whether to continue after his side’s World Cup qualification hopes ended in a 1-0 defeat by Ireland on Monday.
Coleman led Wales to the semi-finals of the 2016 European Championships but his dream of taking the nation to their first World Cup finals since 1958 was crushed in the Cardiff City Stadium.
James McClean’s second-half goal meant Ireland claimed a playoff spot after they leapfrogged Wales into second place in Group D behind Serbia.
It was Wales’ first defeat in a World Cup qualifier for 12 games and their first home defeat in a competitive fixture for four years — a record Coleman said he was proud of.
“All I can think about right now is the faces of the players in the dressing room and their disappointment,” Coleman, who took over in 2012 after the death of former coach Gary Speed, said. “They are inconsolable but they should be very proud.
“I will take some time to let the dust settle, we will sit down and have a chat and take it from there.
“This was our first defeat at home for four years. Four years ago we were playing against Macedonia in front of 8,000. It is different now.”
Coleman was generous in his praise for Ireland counterpart Martin O’Neill, whose side produced a textbook away display.
“I thought on the balance of play we pretty much dominated the first half,” he said. “We knew Ireland would have a gameplan and they executed it very well. Fair play to them.
“Martin O’Neill has done a great job and good luck to them.”
Ireland will probably face one of the seeded nations in the playoffs, possibly Portugal or Italy, but showed in Cardiff that they will be no pushovers, whoever they draw next Tuesday.
“We are in the play-offs. Whenever the draw is made we will take our chance,” O’Neill said.
“The impression of our campaign? Absolutely delighted. When the draw was made I thought we had a very difficult group. We have come through, fantastic.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Chadband