By Stefan Bienkowski
The hopes of the nation were once again renewed as Scotland’s national team found out its fate ahead of Euro 2016, with the preliminary qualification groups decided by this week’s draw.
Gordon Strachan’s squad were given a testing collection of sides to overcome in their long and questionable task of qualification, with Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Georgia and Gibraltar making up Group D.

Amongst the nine groups fighting for a spot in the 32-side tournament in France in two years time, the Scot’s own group is undoubtedly the most challenging.  With Germany almost certain to finish in top spot, it means half of the group will be fighting for that all important second place.

Although the national team haven’t seen any good fortune in quite some time, Scotland actually sit second in the rankings of each side within this group.  At 34th, they sit below second placed Germany yet comfortably above 67th Ireland, 70th Poland, and 103rd Georgia while fledgling side Gibraltar have yet to be ranked ahead of playing their first competitive fixture later in the year.

As the world’s best teams gear up for the World Cup in Brazil this summer, Scotland and the best of the rest will be turning their attention to a series of must-win games that begin this September to decided whether the tartan army will finally be travelling to their first international tournament since the 1998 World Cup in France.

One side who will be there are Germany, Euro heavyweights and World Cup favourites, who will undoubtedly approach this summer’s tournament with unquestionable professionalism before even considering the next task of Euro 2016 qualification.

The three time world champions have enjoyed a luxurious time of late having only lost one of their last twelve competitive games, ensuring them of an undefeated run that has stretched as far back as June of 2013.

For even though Joachim Loew’s side may be the least interested on the topic of the coming qualification games, his team of superstars are undoubtedly in a league of their own and should walk to the top of the group with little difficulty.

The most notable match up between Scotland’s five opponents are of course the Republic of Ireland who are now managed by Martin O’Neill, the coach Strachan succeeded at Celtic, and Roy Keane, a player who was for a time under the former SPL manager’s scope at the Glasgow club.

“The commercial managers of both will be jumping for joy with that one,” joked the Scotland manager when asked about the possibly rivalry between the two nations in an interview with the BBC.  Alluding to the fact that it should add plenty of spice to a group that could go any way.

Yet it could also be the Irish side, full of top Premier League talent such as Seamus Coleman and the two Scottish born players Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy, that offer Scotland the most trouble as they too will be desperate to grab that second place finish.

Then we have Poland, the very side Scotland are set to face on Wednesday in Warsaw, who have plummeted down the world rankings yet still possesses outstanding talent throughout the side.

From Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Dortmund full back Lukasz Piszczek, to Bayern Munich striker to be Robert Lewandowski the Polish national team may not be what it used to be a few years ago, but is still peppered with players who could get in Scotland’s way.

We then turn our attention to Georgia, a side with very little experience in the sport considering the country’s independence from Soviet rule only came about in 1991.  Yet the small eastern bloc will offer a genuine test to a Scotland side who often find themselves struggling against the lesser teams.

A new group of qualifying games against a whole host of interesting opponents, Scotland can indeed look forward to the first full qualification campaign under new coach, Strachan.

Very little will be needed to overcome what former manager Craig Levein accomplished during his spell in the job, but following five victories and only four losses – against the likes of England, Belgium and Serbia – in Strachan’s first 10 games, there’s plenty to get excited about when the topic of Scotland’s future is brought up.

Maybe – just maybe – Gordon Strachan can once again take us to a major Championship.


2014-03-01 13:53

Strachan, Salmond, Sturgeon, Swinney can all lead Scotland out of the football and political wilderness.

[Admin – The ‘S’ campaign?]
2014-03-01 19:03

A Gordon For Me
A Gordon For Me
If Your No a Gordon Your Nae Use To Me

Giving my age away eh!

Heard on a footy show this after noon that the game isn’t to be televised.
That’ll change after Indy. Scottish International Football is to be a “core” sport.
call me dave
2014-03-01 21:10

Try this on the match day or before.

BBC … Aye right!…/

2014-03-04 14:59

After the Referendum I hope the Football and Rugby Authorities have thought about what the National Anthem will be.
No matter the outcome either way we cannot sing ‘Flower of Scotland’.
“We can still rise now and be a nation again!” will be a bit outdated.

So what should it be?

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