Wales Costa Rica Gary Speed Memorial Match

As friendlies go, the match between Wales and Costa Rica at the Cardiff City Stadium has more than average importance.

Not only will it be key preparation for Wales’ upcoming 2014 World Cup qualification campaign, but it is also the official memorial match of former manager Gary Speed.

Speed was found dead at his Cheshire home towards the end of last year, with former Fulham boss Chris Coleman being named as his successor.

Coleman is expected to take a back seat for this game, though, with Osian Roberts set to take charge of first team affairs.

Incidentally, the last game between these two sides came way back in 1990, with Gary Speed making his international début in Cardiff.

Wales go into this game looking for their fourth consecutive win, a feat they have not achieved since 1980-81.

However, this will not be an easy game for them, with Costa Rica in good form themselves. They go into the game unbeaten in their last three, which included a surprise 2-2 draw with Spain back in November.

Indeed, Wales will have to make do without Arsenal midfield Aaron Ramsey, the former Cardiff City man being forced to withdraw from the squad due to an ankle injury.

Ramsey had been named as captain by Speed a year ago, leading the side for their last five games up until Speed’s death.

The only other fitness doubt comes in the form of West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Boaz Myhill who has been suffering with an achilles problem. Wolves’ Wayne Hennessey is expected to start in goal.

In Ramsey’s absence, Liverpool’s Carling Cup winning forward Craig Bellamy is expected to take the captain’s armband in what is sure to be an emotionally charged game for him, considering his close friendship with Speed.

It could well be Bellamy’s last game for Wales after he recently admitted that he is considering his future, although Chris Coleman will be hoping to persuade him to continue playing until 2014.

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