The missing Scottish national football team


The UEFA Euro 2016 in France featured three teams from the United Kingdom:Northern Ireland and Wales made their debuts,while England made its ninth appearance in the tournament,there is one national team from the British Home Nations which was missing and that is Scotland.The last time Scotland played in the Euros was two decades ago,in 1996 when England hosted the tournament and when in the group with Switzerland,Netherlands and its biggest rivals and the host of the 1996 tournament England finished third in the group besides it had the same number of points like the Netherlands but they were eliminated on goal difference.Two years later in 1998,Scotland would play in its last World Cup to date which was in France and again would exit the group stage being last in its group in which they were drawed with Brazil,Norway and Morocco and especially embarrassing was the 3-0 defeat against Morocco in the final group match and that marked beginning of the decline of the Scottish national team which continues to this day,also the match with Morocco in Saint-Etienne was the last ever match which Scotland played in an major international football tournament to date and from that moment Scotland is in the football wilderness searching itself and trying to return on the World and European stage.This year was painful for Scotland since all of the British Home Nations and the Republic Of Ireland were featured in the Euros in France with Northern Ireland,England and the Republic of Ireland making the 2nd round and Wales the semifinal of the tournament when they were defeated by Portugal,while the Scots were forced to watch another tournament on television.But that wasn’t always like that besides the Scots made their debut at the European Champonships in 1992 and made another appearance four years later in 1996 in England where they were close to get in the 2nd round,but thanks to a late goal by Patrick Kluivert in match between the Netherlands and England which ended in a 4-1 victory for England,Scotland was eliminated from the tournament besides it won its final group game against Switzerland by a single goal scored by Ally McCoist which turned out to be the last goal which Scotland scored in the European Championships.While in the World Cup made eight appearances with five consecutive appearances between 1974 and 1990,but in that time Scotland had great players like Kenny Dalgish,Joe Jordan and Graham Souness with managers like Jock Stein who was the manager of Scotland between 1978 and 1985 when he died and the great Alex Ferguson briefly managed the national team for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.But those were different times and the Scots could achieve qualification to a major tournament but in the last 16 years have been marked by failures,constant manager changes and a lack of player development in the youth categories together with unlucky qualification draws meant that Scotland has now missed nine major international tournaments in a row.Scotland’s woes of qualifying for a major international football tournament began with the Euro 2000 qualifiers where besides having a good qualifying group with Bosnia-Herzegovina,the Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania,the Faroe Islands and the Czech Republic they finished second and in the playoffs they met England in which they lost their first match at Hampden 2-0 thanks to two goals scored by Paul Scholes and at Wembley they could manage only a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal by Don Hutchison which wasn’t enough to force an extra-time,while for the 2002 World Cup qualifiers,Scotland was placed in a group with Croatia (who won the group),Belgium (who made the 2002 World Cup by winning the playoffs against the Czech Republic),Latvia and San Marino,besides that it had a realistic shot to at least make to the playoffs,the Scots finished 3rd in the group by missing the playoff place by only two points and the first place by three points.That marked the end of Craig Brown’s reign as the manager of Scotland which lasted for nine years and the beginning of constant managerial changes.which lasted in six different managers in the last fourteen years which included the names of Berti Vogts who was the first ever foreigner to guide the Scottish national team and who with Germany won the 1996 European Championships in England,but his reign ended after just two years after the Scots failed to qualify for the 2004 Euros in Portugal besides they finished the qualification group with Germany,Iceland,Lithuania and Faroe Islands,the Scots finished in 2nd place which was enough for the playoffs where they met the Netherlands.Besides that Scotland won its first match by a single goal scored by James McFadden at Hampden,in the return leg they were trounced in the Amsterdam Arena 6-0 which included a hattrick scored by Ruud Van Nistelrooy.After Vogts was fired title winning manager of Glasgow Rangers Walter Smith came to the bench but slowly but surely the Scottish national team began to fade.The qualifiers for the World Cup n Germany were one of the worst for Scotland with finishing 3rd in the group with just 13 points,while for the qualifiers for the Euros in Austria & Switzerland in 2008 it was Christian Panucci’s goal in the 90th minute at Hampden in the match against Italiy on the last matchday of the qualifiers which denied the Scots a place in the tournament besides being in the qualification group with Italy and France which included two 1-0 victries against France both at Hampden and Parc des Princes and they were just two points behind France.That was Scotland’s biggest chance to see an major international football tournament.In the last four qualifiers for both the European Championships and the World Cup,Scoltand’s performance was very poor,for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers Scoland finished 3rd in their group with just 10 points which was the same number as Norway,for the 2012 Euros in Poland & Ukraine they finished again 3rd with two points behind 2nd placed Czech Republic.But the last two qualifying campaigns were especially disastrous for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and for this year’s Euros in France which were under former Celtic and Southampton manager Gordon Strachan where they finished 4th in both qualifying groups.The failure of Scotland not just only reflects a deep crisis in the national team but also in Scottish football in general besides that still football in the number one sport in the country and it will continue to be,however for the football nation which made history with the first ever international match against England in 1873,which gave to the world players like Denis Law,Kenny Dalgish,Joe Jordan and countless others and managers like Bill Shankly,Jock Stein,Alex Ferguson and others for now it will be in the football wilderness until it finds out a way out and the next chance to get out of it is in two years when the World Cup will be in Russia,but the question is can Scotland break its post and return to the World stage?


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