Chris Coleman arrived in Skopje late on Thursday night having managed to take the spotlight off Gareth Bale by losing his passport and missing Wales’ final preparations for Friday night’s World Cup qualifier in Macedonia.
Coleman was not present for Wales’ pre-match press conference, nor their final training session at the Philip II Arena after he had to rush to Newport on Thursday morning in order to obtain a new passport, having realised he had lost the existing document on Wednesday night.
That meant the 43-year-old manager could not travel with the rest of the Wales team from Cardiff Airport, and instead made the journey to Skopje from Heathrow via Vienna.
The farcical events represent an embarrassing episode for Coleman and the Football Association of Wales, with the former Fulham boss, who is close to agreeing a contract extension, nowhere to be seen as his team went through their final pre-match preparations.
Coleman was once famously late for a press conference when in charge of Spanish side Real Sociedad. He claimed a faulty washing machine had flooded his flat, but later admitted he had been out late somewhere he “shouldn’t have been”.
The FAW attempted to play down the incident as assistant manager Kit Symons stepped in to face the media and take training in Skopje.
But Symons insisted it would have no effect on Wales’ performance in their Group A encounter.
Speaking on Thursday evening, Symons said: “There were a couple of passport issues which needed to be resolved and they have been and he will be landing imminently.
“It was a minor issue which has been dealt with, it is sorted so there are no dramas.
“He will not make training but all the tactical stuff has been done during the week and it’s just about the boys stretching their legs, so it will not be a disruption.
“I have not spoken to him, I am sure he will bat it off and get on with it and not be embarrassed.
“It is not going to affect the set-up for the game in any way, shape or form.
“It is unfortunate and we do not want it happening again. But it is not the end of the world and it will be no excuse if we do not perform.”
Coleman’s absence managed what had seemed impossible; replacing Bale as the number one topic of conversation at a Wales press conference.
The winger completed his world-record move to Real Madrid and was unveiled to the Bernabeu faithful on Monday before jetting back to Cardiff to join up with his Wales team-mates.
Symons confirmed Bale wants to play and that he is available for selection.
But he would offer no further information about how much of a role the 24-year-old, who would miss Tuesday’s home meeting with Serbia if he were to pick up a booking, will have having not played a game since July.
“He wants to start. He is a footballer and a passionate boy who loves playing for his country,” said Symons.
“In his heart he would want to, but we will make sure we do the right thing by him.”