Wales deserve low Fifa ranking, says John Hartson

Wales midfielder Joe Ledley
A dejected Joe Ledley after Wales' 2-0 home defeat by England in March 2011

John Hartson says Wales' place among the worst teams in Europe is a fair reflection of their current plight.

A Fifa world ranking of 112th sees Wales classed with Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Malta, Andorra and San Marino.

Gary Speed's side will therefore be among the sixth and last Uefa seeds in Saturday's draw for the 2014 World Cup.

"We're 112th in the world for a reason - we don't win enough games," said former Wales striker Hartson.

Wales slipped to 116th in the rankings in February 2011, their lowest ranking since the system was introduced by Fifa, world football's governing body, in December 1992.

The nation has been in freefall since August 2008 when, under former manager John Toshack, they had risen 17 places in a year to reach 51st.

A run of nine wins from 26 games has been responsible for that startling demise.

"You've got to win games," said Hartson, who was part of the Wales side that rose 49th place under Mark Hughes in 2003.

"If you don't win games, you're going to slip down the rankings. Gary [Speed], more than most of us, will understand that."

Wales dropped into pot six for the World Cup draw after being overtaken by the Faroe Islands in June's Ffia rankings.

The Faroes, managed by former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr, took the final place in pot five alongside Armenia, Finland, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Moldova, FYR Macedonia and Azerbaijan.

After Saturday's World Cup draw in Rio, Wales could find themselves in the same group as Spain, France and the Czech Republic.

But Robbie Savage, who won 39 Welsh caps before retiring from international football in acrimonious circumstances in 2005, says being in pot six rather than five will have little effect on Wales' chances of progressing.

"No mater what pot Wales are in, there are always going to be two or three stronger teams in the group," he said.

"Even if Wales were 60th in the world rankings, they would be in pot three or four and the likelihood of them qualifying would be slim anyway.

"Wales are 112th but they are better than teams above them. But the likelihood of Wales qualifying for a World Cup in my lifetime is non-existent - that's the harsh truth."

The 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign gets underway in September 2012 and Hartson believes Speed will be under no pressure to succeed because expectations are now so low.

"He'll probably us the current campaign [Euro 2012] to bed players in for the start of the next campaign," said Hartson.

"I don't think he's particularly feeling any pressure. There may be pressure on him from the media and pressure that Gary as a professional will put on himself, but there's certainly no pressure on him from the likes of me."

Nine European group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup finals in Brazil.

The eight best runners-up will be drawn in two-legged play-offs to determine the other four qualifying nations from Europe.

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