Scotland’s Euro 2024 qualifying campaign off to a perfect start
Scotland fans have been through it all – the highs, the lows, and everything in between. But after a perfect start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, captain Andy Robertson says they “simply have to qualify”.
Their latest victory came against Norway with late goals from Lyndon Dykes and Kenny McLean. The win puts them at the top of Group A with nine points out of nine.
A historic fourth straight qualifying win on the horizon?
If Scotland can secure a home win against Georgia on Tuesday, they will be one step closer to securing their place in Euro 2024. It would also mean earning a record-breaking fourth straight qualifying win for the first time ever.
“We couldn’t have started this campaign better,” Robertson told Viaplay.
“We have to qualify now,” he added.
The team has come together under manager Steve Clarke’s leadership:
“The lads who came off the bench did so well,” said Robertson. “Going behind is difficult, but we knew this was the next step in our improvement.”
The game had not gone according to plan as Scotland struggled below par for most of it before finally turning things around in dramatic fashion towards its end. For about eighty-five minutes or so into that match against Norway last week, you could sense that something just wasn’t right with Scotland. They were playing below expectations after setting high standards during their previous games; notably beating Spain at Hampden Park. Trailing to a penalty from Erling Haaland, the Scottish side had only managed two shots on goal and looked like they were running out of ideas in the scorching heat of more than 30C. But then came Kenny McLean off the bench, much to many fans’ frustration as they thought bringing on yet another defensive midfielder was not what Scotland needed. And yet, it all changed when he scored a wonderful winner with his weaker foot and combined brilliantly with Dykes and McGinn. Dykes was also drawing criticism after having had a quiet game, but he epitomizes Clarke’s Scotland – loyalty to players that brings them together for maximum effort. And both repaid their manager in spades.
“The lads did so much,” said McLean. “We were hanging in at the end. The lads who played 90 minutes out there, I don’t know how they did it.”
With nine goals under his belt for Scotland already (nearly all coming during key moments), Lyndon Dykes is undoubtedly one of Clarke’s go-to men:
“He never lets his country down,” says Clarke. “He’s got tireless work up front when we play that 5-4-1 flat formation. He never stops running or trying.”
Scotland fans hopeful again
The Tartan Army has experienced its fair share of heartbreak over the years; hence their reluctance to get ahead of themselves despite this perfect start.
However, those pivotal few minutes against Norway have now seen many scrambling for flights to Germany for Euro 2024 – something unimaginable just months before.
“I can’t see us not qualifying if we keep playing like this,” says former Scotland striker Steven Thompson. “The belief that we have in the team is so important.”
Of course, there’s still much work to be done with return games against Spain and Norway yet to come – not forgetting Tuesday’s match against Georgia.
“We’re in a decent position,” said McLean. “But we want to be in an even better position.”