“You have to respect the magnitude of the game” said Scotland boss Steve Clark, fully aware of the gravity of the upcoming match versus Israel in the European Championship Qualifiers.
Scotland have been on a solid run of recent form and are now a few good results away from qualifying for a major championship for the first time in over twenty years.
Recognizing the huge importance of the game, Clarke said his players “have a chance to make a little bit of history for their country.” It really is an exciting time for the Tartan Army, and especially for young people like myself who have never had the chance to experience Scotland play in a major tournament, is this the time?
The size of the Scotland squad has also increased for the upcoming fixtures, and understandably so, as Clarke went on to state, “Indeed the squad is bigger but we have three games in a very short space of time, it’s important we have options in the squad.”
Fitness concerns for the squad as a whole have also been expressed by the press in the build up to the fixtures. These concerns stem from the fact that thirteen members of the squad will play for their clubs the Sunday (4th October) prior to the international fixtures.
In response to these concerns Clarke said, “We’ve had good work in previous camps, so I think now that I feel comfortable that the principles of the way we want to play are more cemented.”
With Scotland sitting on potentially their biggest success of the last twenty years, it’s almost agonizing that they can’t have the famous ‘Hampden roar‘ around them as they strive for this incredible accomplishment.
Steve Clarke spoke on this noting, “the home advantage is eradicated by having no fans there, it’s something that we have to get used to, there’s not much point going on about the fans, we know that they are watching and supporting, socially distanced wherever they are.”
Playing against Israel is always a tough game for Scotland, with the sides sharing the points in a 1-1 draw last time out. Important then that we learn from our previous ties and use the experience to make ourselves better.
It really seems like Steve Clarke is starting to get things right in developing the identity of his team and their style of play, the quality of players has also increased with many of the squad representing some top English Premier League clubs.
Personally, I am very excited for the next couple months of international football and to see what Scotland can produce, but more immediately, I am so excited to watch them this coming week!
The Scottish Premiership has kicked off and it looks set to be an exciting season as Celtic chase a potential 10 league titles in a row. Arch rivals Rangers will be keen to see that this doesn’t happen though with Rangers manager and ex Liverpool ace Steven Gerrard needing to prove to fans and the board that his appointment as manager was a wise one. Can Rangers stop Celtic this season and when will fans return to games with the current COVID-19 situation rolling on and causing significant financial difficulties for some of the smaller clubs. Whatever happens it’s sure to be an exciting season ahead!
Saturday September 26th
Game One: Livingston FC vs ST Johnstone FC
The game started off with both sides going at each other pretty evenly, however the game began to come alive for Livingston after they were denied a penalty, following that Jason Holt was booked for a tactical foul on a St Johnstone counter attack, and the momentum of the game fully shifted to the Livingston boys. A few minutes later, in the 34th minute Scott Tiffoney passed the ball into the bottom left corner after the ball popped out to him from a messy period of play in the box. No longer than one minute later, Tiffoney laid the ball off to Alan Forest on the edge of the St Johnstone box to calmly slot home the second goal of the day for Livi. The game ended with a very good chance for St Johnstone which looked to be curling home into an open net, but Lee Miller saved his Livingston side by heading the ball clear from the line. Overall, a pretty balanced game in terms of statistics, Livingston just did more with the momentum and chances they had, scoring in quick succession and so early on decided the game in the first half. Full Time score: Livingston 2-0 St Johnstone.
Game Two: St Mirren vs Kilmarnock
The game started off with St Mirren on the front foot, narrowly missing a chance on a counter attack early on. After that the game went back and forth with both sides creating fantastic chances on the counter. St Mirren then hit the crossbar from a corner kick, the bullet header from Joe Shaughnessy. After this missed opportunity, Kilmarnock went down the other end and fashioned together a nice six-yard tap in, the chance scored by Nicke Kabamba, taking his tally for the season up to 4 goals. For the rest of the game, St Mirren looked very dangerous on set pieces but couldn’t convert a crucial chance in the end to draw the game level. Which was a shame as for the closing stages of the game, St Mirren looked to cause the most trouble. Full Time score: St Mirren 0 – 1 Kilmarnock.
Game Three: Hamilton vs Dundee United
Lawrence Shankland Scores Again! This matchup only took 4 minutes for the first piece of excitement with Shankland stabbing home a tidy cut back into the box. After this quick start, the game became rather scrappy with Dundee United attempting a wayward shot from range which swerved high and left away from the goal. Hamilton answered this by going down the other end, squandering a cross to the back post which somehow found its way through the Dundee defence. Not long after this, Dundee wasted what appeared to be a clear cut chance down the right hand side, just inside the box, but Logan Chalmers sliced it wide. A Dundee goal line clearance following a set-piece from Hamilton looked to have kept the clean sheet hopes alive for Dundee, further reinforced by a shocking headed miss from Hamilton striker Tunde Owolabi. Following this, another fantastic opportunity went begging for Dundee as David Mayo flashed a left footed cross across the face of goal from the right hand side. The game then proceeded to go back and forth with numerous slight chances until the 75th minute when Hakeem Odoffin steered home a corner kick to draw Hamilton level. After the equalizer, the game and its momentum petered out with both sides snatching at some chances with some pretty poor attempts during crunch time at the end of the game. Full Time score Hamilton 1-1 Dundee Utd.
Game Four: Motherwell vs Rangers
The game began with a fantastic cross from Rangers captain James Tavernir which was met by a seemingly accidental header on target from Alfredo Morelos which looked to be going in, but was instead saved by the Motherwell goalkeeper. Tavernir then stepped up to slot home a penalty in the 12th minute following an accidental handball from Motherwell’s Mugabi. Then in the 28th minute, Jordan Jones smashed a curled effort across goal from the right hand side after making an incredible sprint to get on the end of his teammates pass. The ball hit the far post and ricocheted into the otherside of the goal, fantastic goal. Richard Tate then gave another penalty away for Motherwell in the 37th minute of the game, handballing Ryan Kents inswinging corner. Up stepped James Tavernir to slot home his second penalty kick of the day. Cedric Itten then made his presence known, thumping in a screamer of a volley from the top of the box for Rangers in the 75th minute, before slotting home the ball in the 80th minute as it fell kindly to him following a scramble in the six yard box from a corner kick. The game then ended with Motherwell getting on the scoresheet through a comical error from the Rangers defender George Edmunson, as the corner kick just slipped his view and bounced off his face into his own goal from no more than six yards out. Final score Motherwell 1-5 Rangers.
Game Five: Celtic vs Hibernian
Celtic started early through Callum Mcgregor who passed the ball into the net from the top of the box in the 7th minute to take the lead over Hibs. By the 35th minute, this lead was doubled, Albain Ajetti calmly slotting home a rebound from the goalkeeper on the edge of the six yard box. Celtic would go on to dominate Hibs all the way to the 79th minute where Mohammed Elynoussi would put a cap on an excellent team performance for the celts. Celtic also ended the game with the lion’s share of possession at 65%. Final score: Celtic 3-0 Hibernian.
Game Six: Aberdeen vs Ross County
The game began pretty slow but soon became scrappy and looked up for grabs for either team with chances going begging at either end. However it was Aberdeen who snatched the momentum in the 42nd minute through a Marley Watkins bouncing header off a cross from out wide left. The next significant action came in the 60th minute with Iain Vigurs bringing down Mccrorie inside the box at the end of an Aberdeen counter attack. Lewis Ferguson stepped up to slot the ball home to the keepers right. Just sixteen minutes later a handball was called on Ross County‘s number 43 Reid. Ferguson stepped up again and slotted his second in the exact manner of the first. The game ended Ross County 0-3 Aberdeen.
That’s all for this week! Cameron will be back with his sports report next week!
You can get in touch with Cameron with any sports tips or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org