For all the talk of “unlucky” that comes from England fans after losing to penalties to the Germans a couple of times, they should at the very least feel empathetic towards their northern neighbours Scotland. A fluky 92nd minute goal at home to World Cup winners Italy cost them their place in the European Championships in 2008, which means they have now failed to qualify for a major football tournament for 11 years; and the Scots last night (9 Sept) again nearly, so very nearly did enough.
The mission statement from manager George Burley pre-match was simple; ‘a win against Holland (seeded 3 in the world) at Hampden Park or nothing’, and for large chunks of the match it showed. Kenny Miller striking the bar and Steven Naismith hitting the post looked promising, but for all their possession and positive football it was a mistake by David Weir which gifted a late (82m) goal from Eljero Elia for the Dutch that finally crushed Scotland.
As is usually the case in a Scotland qualifying group, it was a case of too little too late: yes they did lose to the Netherlands last night after a spirited and at times dominating match, but losing to Norway and other lesser teams in the group is what cost them.
So, where now for Scotland? Burley has stated he wants to stay on and it’s likely he won’t have a choice. Either way it’s a long time since the Scottish football heydays of the 70’s and that Archie Gemmall goal against the Dutch in the World Cup. Well, at least Scottish eyeballs can be locked on Andy Murray winning the U.S. Open, Oh!