WM: What does it mean for Scotland to reach Qatar? | football news

In front of a worldwide television audience of millions, Scotland met world champions Brazil in the opening game of the World Cup. Yes, that has happened, although it always sounds more surreal when the years go by without achieving football’s greatest showpiece.

That was in France 1998 and although Scotland lost an early goal to César Sampaio, Scotland fought back to equalize through a John Collins penalty before Tom Boyd’s late own goal won the game for Brazil in typically Scottish fashion. Craig Brown’s team followed with a draw against Norway and a loss against Morocco.

It was the end of the road in terms of Scotland’s usual performance and first-round elimination at the World Cup. We qualified six times in seven attempts between 1974 and 1998, only missing out in 1994. Because as much as fans have grown accustomed to qualifying, the opposite is true today, but after ending our exile in big tournaments at last year’s Euro, Scotland hope to reach Qatar in November.

Brazil celebrate defeating Scotland at the 1998 World Cup
Picture:
Brazil celebrate defeating Scotland at the 1998 World Cup

I was too young to really appreciate the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Probably just as well given Scotland’s loss to Costa Rica, which made the task of getting out of a group for the first time even more difficult. In 1998 I was in my early teens and football was everything. It still is today, although it is also a profession. At that time I was denied the opportunity to go to France because of the school exams and my three uncles who refused to take me in because they didn’t want to be burdened by their little nephew. To be fair, I’m as old as I was in 1998 now and I can see the other side of the argument!

Qualifying for Euro 2020 has worked for Scotland on many levels. The main factor was ending our exile in a major men’s tournament, but beyond that it was what it did for the country. We now believe that we can qualify for the big tournaments. Children watching will be inspired to follow in the teams’ footsteps, just like when the women’s team qualified for Euro 2017 and the 2019 World Cup. Crowds are in Hampden Park now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. The fans want to deal with a good team of players who have won the country over again.

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Relive Scotland’s roller-coaster ride to the World Cup play-offs, which included multiple last-minute goals, pivotal victories and plenty of drama

Not many in the current squad will remember France ’98 quite so well, apart from goalkeepers Craig Gordon and David Marshall, who, like me, are in their late 30s. This shows once again why qualifying for this tournament is both important and special. There is a generation of fans and players who can’t remember that Scotland was at the center of the world when they faced off against Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Dunga and the like at the Stade de France.

This time, of course, we know who’s waiting for us if we can qualify. United States, Iran, which caused problems for Scotland in Argentina in 1978, and the Auld Enemy. This would be the first meeting of the oldest game in international football to be played outside of Scotland or England. The recent Euros clash showed Scotland can compete with England, who would finish second in the tournament even if we didn’t win at Wembley.

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Steve Clarke confirms Nathan Patterson’s elimination against Ukraine in the World Cup playoff semifinals and delivers a message to the Tartan Army

It’s all well and good to remember past World Cups and how we should have done better at them, but now it’s about getting there.

No one doubts how difficult it will be for Ukraine in Wednesday’s semifinals. Nobody can imagine how difficult it must be for the Ukrainian players to concentrate on a football game when such atrocities are happening at home. The fact is that there is a game and both teams want to win it. Scotland must block the understandable emotional support Ukraine will receive from many neutrals. They have a job to do and that is to get to the World Cup.

It’s hard not to sound callous writing the previous sentence because this is just a football game, it’s not a matter of life or death. Ukraine want to win this to claim their first World Cup since 2006, but just capturing the field at Hampden Park is symbolic enough, it shows their Russian attackers that they will not be stopped and will represent their country on a global stage. Even better if they make it to the World Cup.

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Manchester City defender Oleksandr Zinchenko couldn’t hold back tears while speaking on the eve of Ukraine’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland

Whoever wins, it’s off to Cardiff to take on Wales. Recent encounters with Wales have proved difficult for Scotland, but memories of 1977 at Anfield and 1985 at Ninian Park tell a story of how Scotland got the job done, even if the latter was in tragic circumstances, when manager Jock Stein assisted died full time.

And for all that, the World Cup is so close for Scotland, two games apart and the greatest show on earth, but it still seems so far away.

Wednesday, June 1, 7:00 p.m

Starts at 7:45 p.m


In 1998 there was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to keep us updated and entertained. Tony Blair was still a fresh and popular Labor Prime Minister and the SPL had just been formed to take Scottish football into the 21st century. It’s always good to look back. I saw Scotland’s last World Cup game against Morocco with my late grandfather at his social club in north Edinburgh. You cherish these memories more and more over time.

I also remember him lecturing me after throwing down my Scotland scarf when Morocco scored their third goal. He told me to put the scarf back on and still continue to support the team. I’ll do it again on Wednesday night, but also with a mic in hand.

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