Un­der­dogs Scot­land face ‘mighty’ Eng­land

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

Eng­land’s Jamie Vardy (left) and Wayne Rooney at­tend a train­ing ses­sion at St Ge­orge’s Park, Bur­ton, Eng­land yes­ter­day. Eng­land will play Scot­land in a World Cup qual­i­fier to­day. LON­DON, Eng­land (AP): HE LAT­EST in­stal­ment of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball’s old­est ri­valry is a jar­ring re­minder for Scot­land of just how far the team has fallen — and keeps on plummeting.

The bal­ance of power has firmly been in Eng­land’s favour for decades.

And yet thou­sands of Scot­land fans will still travel south to Lon­don for to­day’s World Cup qual­i­fier while fa­tal­is­tic about their team’s chances.

“I feel sorry for the younger fans be­cause the fu­ture looks bleak,” said Hamish Hus­band, a 58-year-old mem­ber of a group of Scot­tish sup­port­ers. “The rea­sons are self-in­flicted. Not un­like Eng­land, we have this be­lief that be­cause we in­vented

Tfoot­ball, then some­how we had a right to suc­cess. “We have just been left be­hind. Mod­ern foot­ball has changed, and Scot­tish foot­ball has not changed with it.”

The ri­valry that be­gan in 1872 is be­ing re­newed at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium for the 113th time. It was forged on fad­ing mem­o­ries of fiercely com­pet­i­tive tus­sles on the field and fiery ex­changes that of­ten turned vi­o­lent around the sta­dium. There were times when both Eng­land and Scot­land con­tested ma­jor tour­na­ment fi­nals and both teams could de­ploy gifted play­ers.

Eng­land con­stantly ag­o­nise over their lim­ited in­ter­na­tional suc­cess, with the 1966 World Cup be­ing their only ti­tle and no fi­nal ap­pear­ance since then. But Eng­land are reach­ing tour­na­ments — with rare slip-ups — un­like Scot­land, who last qual­i­fied for the World Cup in 1998.

QUAL­I­FI­CA­TION PLACE

When the newly ex­panded 24team Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship took place in France this year, all the Bri­tish teams par­tic­i­pated apart from Scot­land.

“We look at coun­tries like Ice­land, who are show­ing what can be achieved with lim­ited pop­u­la­tion and lim­ited re­sources,” SFA chief ex­ec­u­tive Ste­wart Re­gan told the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Thou­sands of mem­bers of the Tar­tan Army head­ing to Wem­b­ley will do so know­ing there is lit­tle point book­ing trips

to Rus­sia for the 2018 World Cup. The Scots are only in fourth place in their qual­i­fy­ing group.

Af­ter three matches in Group F, Eng­land are al­ready out in front in the only au­to­matic qual­i­fi­ca­tion place.

In the FIFA rank­ings, Scot­land are 57th, sand­wiched be­tween Mace­do­nia and Mali, while Eng­land are 12th.

“We are hor­rific in Scot­land at the mo­ment,” Scot­land coach Gor­don Stra­chan said. “We are in the worst state we’ve ever been. I am not talk­ing about the Scot­land na­tional team, but the stan­dard of kids com­ing through.”

Only six mem­bers of the 25man squad for the Eng­land game play in the cash-rich English Pre­mier League. An­other nine from are low­er­league clubs in Eng­land. Just four are from Scot­tish champions Celtic. The stand­out name is winger Oliver Burke, who joined Bun­desliga club Leipzig in Au­gust to de­velop his game.

AP

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