Wales begin against Belgium

PA Sport
Gary Speed
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Gary Speed

Wales will begin their bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals with a home fixture against Belgium in September after the Group A fixtures were agreed in Brussels.

Gary Speed's side, currently on an impressive run of four wins from their last five games which has seen them rise from 117th in the world rankings to their latest position of 50th, will open their campaign on September 7 before facing a testing trip to Serbia four days later.

The first of two eagerly-anticipated meetings with Scotland will see Wales have home advantage on Friday, October 12 before making the trip north for the return game in March 2013.

The two fixtures against Scotland are part of double headers which will also see Wales play their pair of games against group favourites Croatia, with Speed's side on the road for the first meeting on Tuesday, October 16 before hosting Slaven Bilic's side on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

Wales will also face former manager John Toshack, now in charge of Macedonia, as they seek to make it to Brazil and qualify for a first appearance at a major finals since 1958.

The Dragons will be away for the first meeting between the sides on Friday, September 6, 2013, with the home fixture being played the following month on Friday, October 11.

Those fixtures sandwich the home clash with Serbia on September 10, before the campaign comes to a close with the trip to face Belgium on Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

Speed was relieved that agreement had been reached without the need to go to a draw, and to have avoided playing qualifiers during the summer of 2013. He said in an FAW statement: "This is such a well-balanced group that we knew everyone would be looking for an early advantage.

"As always, there had to be some give and take, but I am very glad that we did not have to use the June qualifying dates.

"All the matches are double headers for us so we need to keep our good form going now through the friendly matches that we have and on to the start of the qualifiers next autumn and beyond."

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