Why Scotland Need To Beat Lithuania

Hampden

Let me take you back to the summer of 1998, the tenth of June to be precise.

It was the opening day of the World Cup in France.

Scotland walked out alongside 94′ champs Brazil, the sun was shining and the fans were singing. I had managed to dog (skip) school and eagerly awaited the clash.

Typically Scotland¬†would lose to a silly own goal but you couldn’t dampen our spirits as we had reached yet another major tournament.

The nineties had been a fine decade for us Scots, we managed to qualify for all but one of the five major tournaments held between 1990 and 1999.

So when watching us compete, I use the word compete lightly, in France that year I didn’t think I better savour this moment. I had got used to the fact that Scotland always seemed to find a way to get to most tournaments.

Unfortunately I was spoilt and I didn’t realise it.

Since that trip to the World Cup in 98′ Scotland have never managed to qualify for another major event. That’s eighteen years of waiting and hurting!

Along the way we’ve had a few decent qualifying campaigns but we’ve also had to watch on as our team either shot itself in the foot or put on numerous embarrassing displays.

Managers have come in and left without guiding us in a Euros or a World Cup. Decent players have debuted and since retired without kicking a ball in a major tournament.

It came to ahead in the summer when Gordon Strachan’s squad failed to get back to France. The famous Tartan Army had to watch on as England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland qualified for the new revamped Euros.

That revamp, which saw the number of teams qualify for the tournament up from 16 to 24, was seen as an ideal opportunity to see us end our agonising wait.

But instead of Scotland, it was smaller nations like Albania and Iceland that took advantage along with the other home nations.

Yet we would once again sabotage our own dreams by losing an away game to Georgia.

It was a tight group with Germany, Poland and Ireland but we had done well and managed to hold a better record over the Irish. But in the end we failed to secure a play-off place, losing the spot to Ireland by three points.

Without doubt our downfall came in Tbilisi. The Georgian’s only points in that campaign came with three wins (two against minnows Gibraltar and that win against us).

It’s not the first time that Georgia have stopped us in our tracks by the way.

But it’s a result that still haunts us as a nation.

So when Gordon Strachan comes out and suggests that our home fixture against Lithuania isn’t a must win, then quite frankly he’s talking out of his hat.

Once again we are in a tough group along with Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta and our Auld enemy England. With only the top placed sides qualifying automatically for the finals and best placed second sides fighting it out in a play-off to get to Russia in 2018.

That means Scotland really need to make Hampden a fortress and they need to pick up wins over sides like Lithuania, who are down in 117th spot in the world rankings. They’ve also only won one in their last six outings.

Now that’s not to say that we should see the Lithuanians as mugs, they will be hard to breakdown and beat but we still need to get that victory.

One of the problems we’ve had in the past has been our lack of confidence and our lack of a cutting, ruthless edge!

Now I get that Gordon might be trying to deflect pressure away from his side but surely he and the players know that the support’s patience has all but ran out. We need to have stronger ambitions.

So hopefully we can come away from Saturday’s game with all the three points and have confidence in ourselves that we can finally dream again!

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