Cyprus 0-3 Scotland: ‘Only our wee country could mess it up from here’

Cyprus 0-3 Scotland: ‘Only our wee country could mess it up from here’

2 min

Cyprus 0-3 Scotland: ‘Only our wee country could mess it up from here’

John McGinn’s answer might have been along the lines of: “Keep the heid, lads”. But the midfielder’s grinning face told a different story entirely.

Scotland are on the brink of reaching Euro 2024 after making it five wins from five against Cyprus, and everybody knows it. Especially McGinn.

“We’re trying our best to keep a lid on it,” he told BBC Scotland. “But the wee guys inside you are getting excited. We are getting excited. We’re allowed to. But we’re not there yet.”

“We’ll let the fans get carried away – I’m sure they’ll drink Cyprus dry tonight,” he added on Viaplay. “We’ll go back, have our summer fruits, and prepare for Tuesday.

“Only our wee country could mess it up from here, so we need to stay calm.”

McGinn is about the only one staying calm.

The rest of the country were likely diving onto phones and laptops looking for flights to Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Berlin and the rest as the Aston Villa man swept in the third goal against Cyprus after only half an hour.

What do Scotland need now?

Surely Scotland can’t mess it up from here?

It is now five wins from five in the group – 11 wins in a row in group qualifiers – with 12 goals scored and one conceded in Group A.

Two points in their final three games will guarantee a place at the finals in Germany next summer, but if Georgia and Norway draw in Oslo on Tuesday then it will be job done.

If if there is a winner in that one, that side would have to go on and win their final three games, and Scotland would have to lose all of theirs, to have any chance.

It is firmly in Scotland’s hands. The nation expects, having fallen in love with their team again. Any chance of a smile from the manager? No chance.

“Another win in the process to try to qualify for another major tournament,” Steve Clarke told BBC Scotland.

“That’s been the aim since the start. To win five games in the group is great, it’s what we want to do, but we’re not there.

“Everyone can get excited, the Tartan Army can get excited; we’ll just stay level-headed. We’ve got a really tough game in Spain next month, and if we’ve got to go there and get something then that’s what we’ll try to do.

“If you get ahead of yourself, it can come back to bite you.”


‘The challenge is to get out of the groups’

The pundits, though, are fully on the Scotland hype train. Former manager Craig Levein even invoked The Monkees’ classic single from 1967.

“I’m a believer,” he said on Sportsound. “I’ve watched this group of players grow in character, and the performances have become very consistent.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a campaign where we’ve won our first five games. It’s exceptional. I think we’re going to qualify for the finals but the next challenge is to try to get out of the group stages.

“The evidence is there that we’re capable. I think a lot of guys will be better players by next summer. Particularly if they’re playing regularly against other top players.”

Former Scotland defender Willie Miller agreed the challenge now is not so much getting to the Euros – but making a mark when they get there. Steady on, Willie…

“It’s a challenge to get there – but they’ll get there,” Miller said.

“They’ll embrace that, as they have in these games up to now. The work Steve Clarke has done has been incredible, their performances have been of such a high level.”

There you go then. Last-16, here Scotland come. Except, there is still a job to do. Trips to Spain and Georgia come before the final game at home to Norway in November.

It could all be done and dusted by then. But the crucial thing is, Scotland are in control. Nervous? You shouldn’t be.

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