‘Nothing but good thoughts for Ukraine’ as Scotland prepare for WC playoff
Scotland and Ukraine finally meet on Wednesday night in a long-delayed Qatar 2022 World Cup play-off semi-final clash, with the winners set to progress to face Wales for the final Uefa-zone spot in the finals. The two nations were due to originally play in late March, but the invasion of Ukraine by Russia led to a postponement and now, as the war in that country approaches its 100th day, an emotional occasion is set to unfold.
While Steve Clarke and his side have been entirely respectful of the situation in Ukraine, the Scotland boss knows his side have a job to do and wants the home crowd to help them achieve it.
Meanwhile, legendary striker Andriy Shevchenko says the entire nation’s morale will be the only push Ukraine’s players need. “The motivation is incredible. In my opinion, we need to put the result away and just focus on the game. We need to play for the fans, for the whole of Ukraine, for those at home, for those defending the country and for those who left the country,” he said.
Follow all the action live below as Scotland face Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final:
‘We don’t want to be one-tournament wonders’
Scotland boss, Steve Clarke, is sure this Scotland squad will not be “one-tournament wonders” as they prepare to face Ukraine in their World Cup play-off this evening.
Clarke led Scotland to the delayed Euro 2020 last year which was their first major tournament finals in 23 years and he knows that his men are so close to another major competition.
If the Scots defeat Ukraine they will travel to Wales on Sunday, with the winner of that game qualifying for Qatar 2022.
“This team, this squad of players, will go to another tournament,” Clarke said, “We said we didn’t want to be one-tournament wonders. I’m convinced that this group of players won’t be, whether it’s this tournament 2022 in Qatar or 2024 in Germany or 2026 in America.”
Michael Jones1 June 2022 15:05
Scotland clash ‘the hope of the country’ for all of Ukraine, says Andriy Shevchenko
Ukraine is currently at war with Russia following Vladimir Putin’s invasion in February. The match against Scotland was originally due to take place in March but was moved due to the impact of the war.
And Shevchenko, who is Ukraine’s record scorer and also managed them from 2016 to 2021, believes the team have what it takes to qualify for a second World Cup since their independence in 1991.
Michael Jones1 June 2022 14:48
Scotland vs Ukraine
The atmosphere is building nicely and the players are ready for this long-awaited clash. Scotland are two matches away from reaching their first men’s World Cup in 24 years.
Hampden Park will host a World Cup play-off semi-final between Scotland and Ukraine this evening in a game that will be watched around the world given the situation in Ukraine.
It will be emotional, tense and enthralling.
Michael Jones1 June 2022 14:32
‘Take us to the World Cup’: Ukraine and Scotland ready for play-off that is now more than just a game
“If it was any other country, I would probably want them to win,” the Scotland captain Andy Robertson grinned ahead of tonight’s World Cup semi-final play-off with Ukraine, “but unfortunately they’re playing against my country and we have to stand in their way.”
There will be a balancing of emotions at play at Hampden this evening, coming into a match that a few months ago already carried huge significance but has now developed into something far larger. As Robertson explained while navigating the lines between both sides, Scotland will welcome Ukraine with open arms on what is set to be an emotional occasion, as the country plays its first competitive fixture since it was invaded by Russia three months ago, but they will need to be ready for a contest as well.
There is a place in Qatar on the line, after all, as Scotland sense their best opportunity in a generation to end their 24-year wait for an appearance at a men’s World Cup. The Tartan Army will be ready, not just in preparation for what is set to be an outpouring of support for Ukraine, but to roar their team into Sunday’s play-off final against Wales. Perspective, however, is never far away. “There will be an incredible atmosphere at Hampden,” the Ukraine head coach Oleksandr Petrakov admitted in the build-up to his team’s match, “but after rockets and bombs, we are not afraid of anything.”
Read Jamie Braidwood’s full match preview here:
Karl Matchett1 June 2022 10:49