Rob Page said his Wales team could not “sit and cry about” their agonising late defeat to Iran at the World Cup on Friday, with a clash against neighbours England to come.
Page’s men fell to a dramatic 2-0 loss at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium as Iran scored twice deep into injury time after Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey had been sent off.
Wales, playing in their first World Cup for 64 years, need to beat England on Tuesday and hope other results go their way to reach the last 16.
“We can’t sit and cry about it,” said Page. “We’ve got an opportunity to put it right.
“Thankfully the game is just around the corner so we can go out and give our supporters something to cheer about.
“They’ve shown massive commitment to come over so it really disappoints me that we gave them that performance today. We’ll bounce back, pick ’em up, and go again.”
Wales struggled to deal with the energy of Iran and faded badly in the second half.
Captain Gareth Bale has not played a full 90 minutes in club league football since January 2020, before the start of the Covid pandemic.
Aaron Ramsey struggled for regular game time on loan at Rangers from Juventus last season and has only made five Ligue 1 starts for new club Nice this term.
Page refused to say the defeat heralded the end of an era for Wales, who have played in three of the last four major tournaments having previously been absent from the biggest events since 1958.
“I don’t want to talk about that, because we want to prepare a game against England,” he said.
“I am disappointed. We fell well below the standards we set in recent months when qualifying for the World Cup. If we’d have met those standards in some of our performances then we would have been all right.”
– ‘Gutted’ Bale –
Bale was a peripheral figure throughout the match and could not hide his disappointment.
“We’re gutted. There is no other way to say it,” the 33-year-old told the BBC.
“We’ve fought until the last second. It’s one of those things, it’s difficult to take but we have to recover and go again.”
Hennessey became only the third ‘keeper to be red-carded in World Cup history in the 86th minute, after clattering into Mehdi Taremi as the Iran striker broke clear.
“Obviously the red card changes the game completely. We let the first one in and the second one doesn’t matter,” added former Real Madrid attacker Bale.
“We have to pick ourselves up straight away. We have one game left and we have to enjoy the occasion.
“It’s going to be difficult, for sure. We’ll see what happens in the other game.”
England take on the United States in the other Group B match later on Friday.