Football

Steve Clarke urges Scotland's players to refocus sights on World Cup


Steve Clarke may be in danger of appearing greedy. With Scotland in euphoric celebration after qualification for next year’s European Championship, their first men’s finals appearance in 23 years, the manager has told his players to target the next World Cup.

Having seen off Serbia on penalties to reach the Euros, Scotland continue their successful Nations League campaign with a game in Slovakia. The Qatar World Cup is the potential reward should this run continue.

“I interrupted the players’ celebrations the other night just to have five minutes of serious chat,” he said. “I thanked them for their efforts, players and staff. I also reminded them that we have qualified for Euro 2020 and we can now park that one in the cupboard. It gives us something to look forward to

“Now it’s about the next tournament. The next tournament is Qatar 2022 and we want to be involved in that too. We know better than anybody now surely how important these Nations League games are.

“Most of the squad are at a really good age and coming to a time in their lives where they have good international experience and are picking up more. There is a nucleus there, the core of the squad can hopefully carry on for a few more years and hopefully take in another qualification. That has to be the aim.”

Clarke is aware of the scale of his team’s achievement in Belgrade. More than two decades without a major tournament and the impact of Covid-19 have contributed to grim finances at the Scottish FA. Redundancies were announced at the governing body in recent weeks.

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“It’s something I was aware of,” Clarke said. “Your bosses tell you certain things. Everybody knows that financially and economically this is a very difficult time for everybody.

“I believe the Scottish FA have already taken out a £5m loan to try and help with the process of getting through this pandemic. And the fact we have qualified means there is going to be some more revenue coming in.

“It will probably be too late to save some of the jobs that are going to go, which is a shame, but maybe it will stop future redundancies. I don’t know, it’s not my department. But I know it’s important. It’s been a long time since we qualified. You have to understand that everybody needs money coming in.”



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