Win or lose, this is only the beginning for Wales - Coleman

Chris Coleman Bosnia Wales 10102015
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The Dragons manager insists his charges are only just beginning their journey, regardless of whether they manage to book their place in the Euro 2016 knockout stage

Chris Coleman believes there is plenty more ahead of the current group of Wales players, whether they reach the round of 16 at Euro 2016 or not.

Coleman's side face Russia in Toulouse on Monday knowing they may need a win to assure themselves of a place in the knockout stage following an opening Group B victory over Slovakia and a subsequent loss to England.

But the 46-year-old says that the bigger picture for his nation must not be forgotten among the multitude of short-term targets that the tournament presents.

“We got to this tournament that nobody wants to end, of course, but it’s as if at the end of it whenever we get knocked out that’s it… It’s all over for us and this team is done," Coleman told a pre-match press conference.

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“This team is very much in the middle of a journey, it really is. This is our first taste of major tournament football and it’s amazing, it’s fantastic. Yes, it’s difficult, it’s tough, it’s relentless. We’ve been together every day for the last month, and it’s not easy but it’s fantastic. It’s a huge learning curve for us but we’re enjoying it and we’ll take a lot from it."

He added: “Whenever it’s our time to go back home we’ll take so much from this. The team will take so much from playing against the best teams in Europe.

“This group can’t lose, because they’ll be going home with so much experience that we’ve never got in the past. Normally in June we’re playing a friendly game against a Holland or whoever who are already qualified and planning for a tournament. We were like a bounce team, somebody to practice against. Not any more.”

Wales go into the match in second place in Group B, with Russia currently bottom of the standings with just a single point from two games, but Coleman insists Leonid Slutsky's men remain a huge threat.

“It’s not for me to comment on their performance or their form, that’s up to Russia to get on with their own game,” said Coleman. “We just concentrate on what we need to do, if the opposition has problems that’s up to them.

"We know they need to win, but they drew with England – a good result – and Slovakia are a very very good team. So we need to concentrate on our game.”

The match at the Stade Municipal kicks off at 21:00 CET on Monday, with Wales relying on the result of the simultaneous clash between Slovakia and England if they fail to pick up all three points.

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