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Coleman may be tempted to quit Wales - Saunders

Britain Football Soccer - Wales - EURO 2016 Homecoming Celebrations - Cardiff, Wales - 8/7/16 Wales head coach Chris Coleman at Cardiff City Stadium Action Images via Reuters / Adam Holt Livepic
Britain Football Soccer - Wales - EURO 2016 Homecoming Celebrations - Cardiff, Wales - 8/7/16Wales head coach Chris Coleman at Cardiff City StadiumAction Images via Reuters / Adam HoltLivepic

By Tony Jimenez

COVENTRY, England (Reuters) - Former Wales striker Dean Saunders says his country will struggle to hang on to Chris Coleman after their startling run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals and believes the manager could be tempted away soon.

The Welsh, appearing in their first major tournament finals since 1958, exceeded their wildest dreams by reaching the last four in France earlier this month before being beaten 2-0 by eventual winners Portugal.

"I don't know if the FA are going to be able to keep hold of Chris, I think someone will probably snap him up soon," Saunders told Reuters in an interview while playing in this week's British Par-Three Golf Championship at Nailcote Hall near Coventry.

"Right now his stock is high so I wouldn't be surprised if he has had offers to go to a Premier League club or to go abroad. I'd imagine that's what is probably happening as we speak."

Coleman had spells in charge of English clubs Fulham and Coventry City, Spain's Real Sociedad and Greek side Larissa before taking the reins at his national team in 2012.

Saunders, who won 75 caps for Wales between 1986-2001, regards the job of an international manager as "strange" and may be missing the day to day involvement of club football.

"You don't get much time with the players, you're not on the training ground every day and that's the best bit about being a manager," the 52-year-old explained.

"No hassle, just watching the boys playing football and Chris is probably missing that a bit.

"Chris is 46 so he's had a few jobs. He's got some right and he's got some wrong but he's done great with what he's had at Wales so he gets all the credit from me.

"He got his tactics right at the Euros, he made substitutions that came off, he left players out and still won," said Saunders.

"He played Sam Vokes up front in some games and Hal Robson-Kanu in others, his team selections were all spot on."

Saunders believes Wales fans will demand more high-quality performances when the squad take on Serbia, Ireland, Austria, Georgia and Moldova in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign that begins in September.

EXPECTATIONS UP

"Expectations have gone up but we've got to carry this on now, that's the idea," said the former poacher who scored almost 200 goals during his playing days with Liverpool, Aston Villa, Swansea City, Galatasaray and Benfica among others.

"There are a lot of young players in the team, they've got a lot of caps and now they should be looking forward to the next campaign.

"The under-21s, the under-19s have also got to look at it and say, 'I want to be in there now, I want to be part of that'."

Saunders has experienced the managerial side of football, taking charge of a string of lower-league clubs. His most recent job ended when he parted company with third-tier Chesterfield last November.

He said Wales' displays at the European Championship had made people sit up and take notice.

"It's going to be difficult to get through World Cup qualifying, teams aren't going to want to play us," explained Saunders.

"Even the smaller teams like Moldova are not 'rollovers' any more. Coaches have been educated and if you look at the Euros, every team that tried to win got knocked out -- Russia, Belgium, England -- in the end the teams that opened up got beaten.

"The coaches now work out ways to set up against teams so as not to lose," said Saunders.

"Because of the way the tournament was structured teams realised one win was enough to go through to the knockout stage... that's why the games were a bit negative at times."

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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