Well, Scotland didn’t qualify for the European Championships next summer after losing in the last minute to Italy. This all sounds just like Scotland. On the brink of success only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But to be honest it wasn’t quite like that tonight.
Scotland were in the depths before this qualifying campaign. We were ranked 86th in the world and to be honest that was probably generous. Scotland were dire.
But that’s all changed. Walter Smith took over. He brought in Tommy Burns and Ally McCoist and some organisation and pride. Suddenly Scotland started winning. We were in the group of death. 3 of the 4 semi-finalists from the last World Cup were in our group, France, Italy and Ukraine. We weren’t supposed to do well in that kind of group. But we did. We beat France, twice, Ukraine and but for a last minute goal would have taken a well deserved draw from Italy. Scotland got 21 points in a group we would have done well to get 18 in.
Today was a hopeful day. We were all really excited about the game. The whole country seems to be on a high and today was perhaps just one more step on the ladder of national confidence that we seem to be climbing. Italy, the world champions were at Hampden. They needed at least a draw. We really needed a win.
Italy scored in the first minute. But Scotland never gave up and came back from the shock and equalised in the second half. The Tartan Army were going crazy. But it wasn’t to be. That we even had a chance was amazing.
It looks looks like we have some good young players coming through although we are still short if any of the starting 11 are out. The draw for the World Cup qualifiers is next week. Our rise to 13th in the World Rankings means we will be in pot 2, meaning we should avoid having 3 of the top 4 sides in the world in our group. I think we might even qualify this time… but then eternal optimism seems to be part of a Scotland fan’s make up. The Famous Tartan Army seem able to treat victory and defeat in the same way. Never too high, never too low. The DJ’s choice of song at the final whistle… Que Sara, Sara. We should maybe adopt it as our national anthem… but then I’m starting to think that we might actually believe the future is in our own hands. And it looks bright.