Steve Clarke insists Scotland are ‘desperate’ to beat Ukraine and quality for the World Cup


Steve Clarke insists Scotland are ‘desperate’ to beat Ukraine and qualify for the World Cup as he sends them good wishes ‘except for the game’… while Craig Gordon admits they’re focused solely on winning

  • Scotland and Ukraine play each other with a match against Wales up for grabs 
  • The winner of that final will then go on to quality for the World Cup this winter 
  • Steve Clarke has insisted that his team are ‘desperate’ to beat their opponents 
  • Ukraine have played several friendly games after Russia launched the invasion 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

Steve Clarke has insisted Scotland are ‘desperate’ to beat Ukraine and reach the World Cup, but has sent the war-torn nation his good wishes ‘except for the game’.

The two countries will face each other tomorrow evening in their semi-final play-off, and the winner will then take on Wales for a place in Qatar, in England’s group.

Poignantly, with the war with Russia still raging on, legend Graeme Souness has emotionally admitted that he will be rooting for Ukraine to reach the tournament.

Steve Clarke insists Scotland are ‘desperate’ to beat Ukraine and qualify for the World Cup

Ukraine have played friendlies to prepare, after Russia launched an invasion of their country

Ukraine have played friendlies to prepare, after Russia launched an invasion of their country

Clarke, however, said there will be no distractions, and is focused only on his side. 

‘Nothing but good thoughts and good wishes for them except during the game,’ he told reporters. ‘Obviously they want to go to Qatar and represent their country but I’m desperate to go to Qatar with Scotland. My staff are desperate to go.

‘Most importantly, our players are desperate to take their country to the World Cup finals, so that’s what we focus on.’

The two countries play each other with a spot against Wales in the play-off final up for grabs

The two countries play each other with a spot against Wales in the play-off final up for grabs

The match was originally scheduled for March, but has been pushed back after Vladimir Putin’s forces launched their attack. Ukraine’s players have been able to regroup at a training camp, and have played a series of friendlies to prepare.

On the line is a spot in World Cup Group B, also alongside Iran and the USA. 

Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon is also fixated on helping his country, and says the situation in eastern Europe ‘does not change anything from our point of view.’

‘It’s still a football match. It’s 11 v 11,’ he said.

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon says the situation in Ukraine 'does not change anything' for his side

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon says the situation in Ukraine ‘does not change anything’ for his side

‘No matter what’s going on, it’s about us sticking together and putting our game plan in place, and making sure we do what we can. 

‘If we do that, we’re confident we have enough quality in the team to win the match, although it’s going to be a very difficult one.’

Souness has predicted that his nation are set for a gruelling encounter, but wants Ukraine to ultimately overcome them and even go on to win the showpiece.

Graeme Souness will be rooting against his country, and wants Ukraine to even win in Qatar

Graeme Souness will be rooting against his country, and wants Ukraine to even win in Qatar

He told The Times: ‘When I have thought about this game in my quieter moments, I’ve thought, “How would I deal with this?”

‘Part of me keeps coming back to the fact that it’s just a game of football, and do I really want to beat them? Whether it’s sport, politics, the arts, whatever it is, we must send a message to Russia that it’s not acceptable what they are doing.

‘I’m going to find myself in a really difficult situation. I’ll be emotional. I don’t just want Ukraine to qualify, I want them to go there [Qatar] and win it.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk