Friday 21 October 2016

Strachan: England battle great for the fans


Gordon Strachan spoke of a moment of intervention as Scotland were drawn against England in their 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying group.

The Scotland boss was at Hampden Park with coach Stuart McCall, and after a Q and A with some members of the Tartan Army, the draw in St Petersburg was broadcast.

Malta, Slovenia, Lithuania and Slovakia were drawn with the Scots before all the Scottish fans cheered when the Auld Enemy's name came up on the screen to complete Group F.

Speaking shortly afterwards, Strachan said: "There must have been some sort of intervention there, because the sun came out and England got pulled out of the pot at the same time and the place erupted.

"I imagine that is the way everyone in Scotland felt.

"From the coaches' point of view it is good that there will be these two big fixtures, but I think first and foremost it is good for the fans of both nations. But the next stage, when you look at Slovenia and Slovakia, from the coaches' point of view that's great because we haven't locked horns with them, it is new for us and that will be good.


"It is nice to have a freshness and, on top of that, we have England."

Scotland have not played England competitively since the 2000 European Championship qualifying play-off, where they lost 2-1 on aggregate, while they were also beaten in two recent challenge matches, one at Wembley, the other at Celtic Park.

Strachan, however, will put the World Cup qualification campaign on the back burner as he turns his attention to the European qualifiers which resume in September, where the Scots travel to Georgia before hosting world champions Germany.

Scotland are third in Group D behind Poland and Germany, with 11 points from six games, and there is growing confidence they can reach the finals of a major competition for the first time since the 1998 World Cup finals in France. The former Scotland midfielder said: "That is put to bed. I enjoyed the day but I am not putting any thought into it. I will blank that out, it's not in my world at the moment.

"My world is Georgia and Germany, I am not thinking too much about that (World Cup draw). I just know that we have a group that the fans should be happy with.

"What we have done (in European Championship qualifiers) is put ourselves into a position that we would like to have been in when we started."

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