Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On paper it was in no doubt.

Iceland had never taken a qualification point off Scotland. It was a makeshift and rag tag Icelandic side, decimated by injuries and mainly devoid of household names. The Hampden roar was behind the boys in a must win game.

A Scotland banker and we know how reliable those have been in the financial market in recent months!

It might have looked like a formality, but in reality, this is just the kind of game that Scotland typically underperform in, make it difficult for themselves and ultimately drop points, leaving the nation deflated and wondering where it all went wrong. We’ve seen it so many times before, both in qualification and at the major tournaments. Frankly, I was shitting it!

It hadn’t been the best of build ups for Scotland either, which did little to alleviate the nerves. We’ve hardly been playing exciting football under George Burley and the whole 2010 campaign had gotten off to an inauspicious start, having just been outclassed by the Dutch on Saturday.

The build up was clouded by the Ibrox Two. Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor’s shocking drinking session after returning from Amsterdam was unbelievable. How can two such key players be so irresponsible? Lack of respect for the manager, their fellow players and the fans. They disgraced the country, but let’s be honest, it won’t be the first or last Rangers player to do so. If it’s not drinking binges, it’s going in the huff and refusing to play for your country cos you’re not guaranteed a game. Hopefully Burley and the SFA tell them both to GTF. They’re overrated in any case as far as I’m concerned. Ferguson’s shown he can’t make it outside of the SPL and I’d rather have Craig Gordon between the sticks than flapper McGregor any day of the week, whether he’s only played 3 games in six months or not.

Scotland had to put all these distractions aside and George Burley promised an attacking Scotland side, which already drew raised eyebrows after what we’ve witnessed so far in his disappointing reign. There were five changes from Saturday, but thankfully Ross McCormack wasn’t one of them and he kept his place in the side. The on fire Cardiff man standing out and really impressing in Amsterdam.

The game certainly started the attacking way the Tartan Army had hoped for, with Scotland dominating possession but hardly looking to pose much trouble for the rock hard Icelandic defence. You were getting the feeling that the goal would come though and then there’d be a few more to add to the tally, but then just when you started to feel a little more comfortable, Iceland started coming more into the game.

With 38 minutes on the clock though, the collective sigh of relief rose from the Hampden lights when Ross McCormack got his first Scotland goal, with a cracking finish after some good work from Alan Hutton and Kenny Miller.

Maybe we could start to enjoy the game now!

Fat chance.

When Iceland equalised eight minutes into the second half, you just knew it would come. That feeling of impending doom that hangs around you if you’re a Scotland fan! We fell asleep but it was a well worked goal and superbly taken. The initial shot that crashed off the post was a cracker.

That was the point to show whether or not we had a team of spirited fighters, proud to play for the jersey (there’s so many similarities between the national team and East Fife!).

Thanks to Steven Fletcher and the rest of the boys though, they showed we do. The last few minutes were edge of the seats time but Craig Gordon showed why he’s Scotland’s number one with some important saves in the closing moments.

Who needs wasters like Ferguson and McGregor? The team always seems to play better without the big Hun cry baby in particular anyway.

In the end it was three points in the bag. An often uncomfortable performance to watch at times but hopefully the morale booster the whole squad needed.

Questions still surround George Burley. I mean, you’re fighting for your qualification life and who does he think is the man to bring on to change it all around? Gary Teale! Says it all really.

But now is not the time for doom and gloom. Let’s just bask in the glow of success for at least some point this season.

We don’t make it easy for ourselves, but where’s the fun in that anyway?!

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