Hampden hope

In what has been a largely painful World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign, Scotland proved on Tuesday night that we can win against quality opposition.

Last Updated: 16/10/13 at 13:05 Post Comment

Strach attack: Scotland boss was rewarded for boldness against Croatia, says And

Strach attack: Scotland boss was rewarded for boldness against Croatia, says And

Our 2-0 victory over a strong Croatia side at Hampden certainly gave us exactly what we were looking for: hope for the future.

After winning a couple of games away from home to Croatia and Macedonia, it was important for Gordon Strachan to show a home crowd that we could compete and match up against technically superior players.

I thought Strachan was bold and adventurous in opting for two strikers in the shape of Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass.

Playing with a striking partnership meant Croatia immediately had an advantage in midfield and with Luka Modric always likely to be pulling the strings, we very quickly realised that by putting Croatia under pressure high up the pitch we could force them into the occasional mistake.

That's exactly what happened for the first goal as first Scott Brown, then Charlie Mulgrew forced their immediate opponent to play a quick pass.

Mulgrew's determination to then make the overlapping run for Naismith was great to see and yet again his cross on the run - a difficult skill - was perfect for Snodgrass to go and attack.

Confidence

Naturally we had to defend well as Croatia enjoyed a fair bit of possession and in Grant Hanley and Russell Martin, we have found a very decent centre-half partnership that goalkeeper Alan McGregor can have confidence in.

More than two years without a home win was beginning to wear us all down and this victory sent the Tartan Army away with some hope that we can make Hampden a difficult place for the away side to collect points.

The second goal gave us plenty of breathing space and in Ikechi Anya, we have discovered a Scot with pace to burn, a huge asset on the international stage.

His drive to continually get to the by-line is a godsend for strikers and attacking midfield players and he got his reward again last night by taking on right-back Domagoj Vida inside the box and drawing a late tackle from his more experienced opponent.

Pace will always frighten the very best of defenders and Anya looks as though he'll be a regular fixture in our strongest side.

Drained

We shouldn't forget, though, that all we've achieved in the campaign is to finish exactly where our seeding suggested, fourth in a group of six.

And as we look back on how the group took shape, our early draws at home to Serbia and Macedonia gave us very little to work on and drained our confidence, putting previous manager Craig Levein on the back foot.

Realistically, if we are to have any chance of qualifying for Euro 2016 in France, our home form has to improve greatly. In recent years we have beaten France and Holland, as well as drawing with Italy and Germany.

We now have to believe that whoever we draw when competitive international football returns in just under 12 months' time in the qualifying process for France 2016, that we can start well, earn notable victories and compete in a group from the very first match.

It is not beyond us to finally reach a major tournament in 2016 after what will have been an agonising 18-year wait.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

A

nd yet... Jermain Defoe is still going to pronounce himself gobsmacked when he learns he hasn't made the England squad for the Euro qualifiers.

treeman1
Premier League Winners And Losers

W

e could release Diaby and then re-sign him when nobody else does and he would literally be like a new signing.

john matrix
The Machine Gossip

W

e pay the living wage, living wage, living wage, and that's the way we like it, we like it, we like it!!! Wooo ohhhh ooooohh

hump3.
All Premier League Clubs Should Be Paying Living Wage

Footer 365

Hodgson aims to stay on - Report

Roy Hodgson wants to continue as England manager until after the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, according to reports.

Louis van Gaal denies bust-up with Man Utd assistant Ryan Giggs

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has hit out after he was asked about his relationship with Ryan Giggs.

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana believes captaincy is bringing the best out of team-mate Jordan Henderson

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana believes captaincy is bringing the best out of team-mate Jordan Henderson.

Mail Box

Have To Trust Managers On Mata

It's all very well bemoaning the lack of action for Juan Mata, but we have to trust the judgement of Van Gaal and Mourinho. Plus Martinez Out, and Leicester are doomed...

Should Gerrard Get In This Liverpool Side?

Never mind the long goodbye, should he actually get back into this excellent Liverpool side playing with pace? Mostly we talk Manchester United, though. It's good...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company