Scotland can be giant-killers at mega event, says manager Steve Clarke - GulfToday

Scotland can be giant-killers at mega event, says manager Steve Clarke


Czech Republic players attend a training session ahead of their Euro 2020 match against Scotland in Prague on Friday. Agence France-Presse

Scotland manager Steve Clarke is aiming to restore the team’s reputation as giant-killers as they prepare for their first match at a major tournament for 23 years.

The Scots, who used to be regulars on the global stage, qualified for the coronavirus-delayed Euro 2020 via the play-offs.

Now Clarke wants Scotland to punch above their weight by emulating famous results from their past against the likes of the Netherlands and Spain.

Scotland take on the Czech Republic on Monday before looking for their first victory over England since 1999, and then aim to defend their unbeaten record against 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia.

Clarke feels his squad, captained by Liverpool defender Andy Robertson, has what it takes to ruffle a few feathers during the tournament, which starts on Friday.

“We want to start doing what Scotland used to do many years ago, which is always have a result up our sleeve which would upset one of the big guns,” he told Sky Sports News.

“Hopefully we can produce that in the tournament.”

Scotland have won their past three meetings with the Czechs and Clarke feels a repeat result would put them in a good position to get out of the group stage for the first time.

“Obviously a win would be massive in the first game,” he said. “Anybody I have ever spoken to who has been to a tournament and worked in a tournament is always quite strong on the fact that you shouldn’t lose the first game.

“If you look historically at a lot of World Cup games and (European) Championship games, a lot of the matches are draws, because both teams realise the value maybe of getting something out of that first game.

“It might be cagey, I don’t know. It might open up really quickly. But we will certainly be playing for the three points and I am sure the Czech Republic will be.

“And normally, in recent tournaments, three points can almost guarantee you a place in the last 16, so that would be a great start.”

Meanwhile, Andy Robertson will be in familiar surroundings as he leads Scotland into battle for the first time in a major international tournament in 23 years.

The Liverpool left-back, now a European and English champion with his club and captain of his country, was playing as an amateur for Queen’s Park at Hampden Park eight years ago and working in the ticket office at Scotland’s national stadium to get by off the field.

A tweet in 2012 from an 18-year-old Robertson that read: “Life at this age is rubbish with no money #needajob” has long since gone viral.

Released by his boyhood club Celtic at 15 due to his small stature, Robertson positively channelled that rejection into a hunger to make it the hard way.

A football obsessive, he thought his future might lie as a PE teacher or working in sports science, but his parents agreed to support him through one more season at Scotland’s oldest club in 2012/13 before focusing on further education.

Despite Queen’s Park being in Scotland’s fourth tier at the time, Rangers’ fall to the same level that season due to the Glasgow giants’ financial problems provided an unusual level of media attention on League Two and Robertson quickly caught the eye.

First came a move to Scottish Premiership side Dundee United under former Celtic right-back Jackie McNamara, who was part of the last Scotland side to reach a major finals at the 1998 World Cup.

“It’s a fantastic story, it’s inspirational for any kids at that age who are released or let go,” said McNamara. “He’s done it himself with his attitude towards the game and his determination.”

Agence France-Presse

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