Steve Clarke issues pointed Scotland reminder as boss lays out the fact that makes progress clear
Steve Clarke says Scotland ’s stars are driven by a burning desire to back-up their Euros outing and step onto the World Cup stage.
And the national coach has pointed to the hard statistics that prove beyond doubt the massive steps his squad have taken in exactly two short years.
Last-gasp wins over Israel and the Faroe Islands in the past week have rocketed Clarke ’s boys to the brink of the play-offs for Qatar 2022.
At Hampden and in Torshavn, the Scots dug deep and showed resilience to get the job done in both Group F wins.
Clarke says that comes from a determination to ensure the Euro 2020 appearance was not a one-off return to a major tournament.
And the manager has also pointed back to the dismal situation the squad was in at this time in 2019.
With three games remaining in their Euros section, Scotland were already officially unable to qualify and had only San Marino below them.
Since then, they broke the major tournament hoodoo by making a Euros.
They have dug out big results on huge stages.
And now they have won four successive qualifying matches for the first time in 14 years.
Clarke said: “Someone sent me something that said two years ago this week, we were second bottom of a six-team section with six points and behind Kazakhstan and Cyprus.
“We’ve come a long way in two years. I’ve been telling people for two years we are improving all the time. I’m saying all the time the group is improving. That’s a measure of the progress.
“We went to Serbia and got a result. We went to Wembley and got a result. We went to Austria and got a result and then we got a result in the Faroes and it’s a tough place to go.
“I tried to tell people. I don’t think if people believed me or if they thought I was trying to downplay things, but the opposition there are good and it was a tough, tough night for us and a big three points.
“They want to be successful. Because if you don’t want to be successful, you don’t get that win in the Faroes. You don’t get that late goal.
“You don’t get that late goal against Israel. You don’t get them if you don’t believe.
“They want to go to the World Cup, they want to back up that last tournament and you see it.
“That’s why you get these moments. You just have to look at what they have done over the last couple of years.
“Improving and improving all of the time.”
Scotland have a four-point lead over Israel with two matches remaining in the section and one win over either Moldova or Denmark will seal their passage into the play-offs.
Clarke’s men can seal the deal in Chisinau before hosting the Danes, but he says having two bites at the cherry instead of just the one does not change much.
He explained: “I don’t think it is calm because we are chasing down the 20 points we want to qualify.
“We’ll enjoy this camp. Six points is a good return. Four consecutive wins, 12 points in a row from different games and different ways to win games.
“We’ll just try and go as a team and get better and better and, hopefully, secure second place.”