Glory years are a dis­tant mem­ory for fallen pair

Arab News - - SPORTS -

In part, it is a mat­ter of size. If suc­cess in foot­ball is, as Si­mon Ku­per and Ste­fan Szy­man­ski claim in Soc­cer­nomics, a mat­ter of pop­u­la­tion mul­ti­plied by GDP mul­ti­plied by foot­ball ex­pe­ri­ence, then it must be ac­cepted that there is only so much you can do with a pop­u­la­tion of a lit­tle un­der 10 mil­lion (in Hun­gary’s case) and a lit­tle over 5 mil­lion (in Scot­land’s).

And yet still that does not feel wholly ad­e­quate as an ex­pla­na­tion. These were two teams who, the pre­vi­ous week, had lost at home to Kaza­khstan and Costa Rica; they looked like it. Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna had a good game on Tues­day and the goal­keeper Al­lan McGre­gor of Hull City made a cou­ple of de­cent saves, but the left wing­back, Liver­pool’s An­drew Robert­son, stood out as the one truly top-class player on the pitch. It is a frus­trat­ing quirk for Scot­land that their two best play­ers, Robert­son and Celtic’s Kieran Tier­ney, who was in­jured, both pre­fer to play at left-back.

But at least Scot­land, even if they have not been to a ma­jor tour­na­ment since the 1998 World Cup, still pro­duce play­ers who can op­er­ate at the high­est level. Hun­gary’s de­cline is such that there only out­fielder who has been near a top club in re­cent years, the left-sided mid­fielder Balazs Dz­sudzsak who was at PSV and then Di­namo Mos­cow, is now 31 and play­ing in the UAE. Las­zlo Klein­heisler, the mid­fielder whose en­ergy was so vi­tal in the play-off against Nor­way to qual­ify for Euro 2016, looks as raw at 23 as he al­ways did, and con­ceded a penalty, missed by Char­lie Mul­grew, with an en­tirely need­less chal­lenge in the cor­ner of the box.

The eco­nom­ics of mod­ern Euro­pean foot­ball do not help, drag­ging what­ever tal­ent there is to the big leagues of Spain, Eng­land, Ger­many and Italy, but that is only part of the prob­lem. Nor is it just an is­sue of a small pop­u­la­tion and the nat­u­ral cy­cles that must ex­ist as a re­sult. Lo­cal gov­er­nance, in some way, must be at fault, but find­ing ac­tual so­lu­tions is much harder than point­ing a fin­ger. What was clear on Tues­day, though, was the pro­found sense of loss, of a glory that in 60 years has sim­ply dis­ap­peared.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saudi Arabia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.