Steve Clarke calls on Scotland players to prove they are no ‘one-tournament wonders’ as they begin their World Cup qualification campaign after penalty shootout heroics to make it to Euro 2020
- Steve Clarke wants Scotland to focus on their World Cup qualifying campaign
- Scotland qualified for Euro 2020 in dramatic fashion with two penalty shootouts
- They face Austria on Thursday before games against Israel and the Faroe Islands
- Ryan Jack is injured but John Fleck and Kenny McLean are both available
Steve Clarke has called on his Scotland players to prove they are no ‘one-tournament wonders’ after their penalty shootout heroics to make it to Euro 2020.
Scotland will end a 23-year absence from the big stage at this summer’s postponed tournament but the focus is on the World Cup as Clarke’s men begin their qualifying campaign against Austria on Thursday.
Clarke said: ‘The squad is focused completely on the World Cup games because they are the most important ones.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke has urged his team to prove they’re no ‘one-tournament wonders’
Clarke’s side qualified for Euro 2020 in dramatic fashion with two penalty shootout victories
‘We have said almost since we qualified for the Euros that we don’t want to be one-tournament wonders. We want to have a continued period of success.
‘That starts tomorrow night against Austria at Hampden.’
Scotland qualified for Euro 2020 in dramatic fashion when they beat Serbia in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout in the play-off final after also defeating Israel on penalties in the semi-final.
Ryan Christie’s smart left-footed finish in the 52nd minute against Serbia appeared to send Scotland on their way to their first major tournament since 1998 before Luka Jovic’s 90th-minute header put the party on hold.
A nervous 30 minutes of extra time followed in which goalkeeper David Marshall produced a fine fingertip save to keep their hopes alive.
Scotland converted all five of their spot-kicks in the ensuing shootout and Marshall saved low down to his left against Aleksandar Mitrovic to send his side into delirium and ensure they would be present at this summer’s finals.
David Marshall (left) produced the stop which sent his side to their first tournament since 1998
They will come up against England, Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stages but for now they are concentrated on the game against Austria, followed by a trip to Tel Aviv to face Israel and another match at Hampden Park against the Faroe Islands.
Clarke lost Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack to an ongoing calf problem on Monday but has the likes of John Fleck and Kenny McLean as alternatives, while Scott McTominay could move forward into his natural midfield position.
‘We lost Ryan Jack but we sort of pre-empted that so we are in good shape,’ Clarke said.
‘It is a blow for us because he has done well for us and he plays a certain position in midfield that without him we don’t really have.
‘So we will miss him but we have got a really good squad now so time for someone else to step forward.
‘The little time we have had on the training pitch has been really good work, high quality so hopefully we can take that on to the pitch. In my head, I know the team.’