Steve Clarke rules out Scotland revenge mission against Kazakhstan



Posted Tuesday, November 19, 2019 by PA

Steve Clarke rules out Scotland revenge mission against Kazakhstan

Steve Clarke ruled out a revenge mission in Scotland’s final 2020 European Championship qualifier against Kazakhstan at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

The Scots began their doomed campaign with a shock 3-0 defeat in Nur-Sultan in March, with Alex McLeish being replaced as boss after the expected win in San Marino days later.

The 2-1 win over Cyprus in Nicosia on Saturday moved Scotland above the hosts into third place in Group I behind Belgium and Russia albeit with no chance of automatic qualification for next summer’s finals, although that can still be achieved in the Nations League play-offs next March.

Clarke is clear about what he is focusing on against a side visiting Scotland for the first time and who are two points behind, and it is not payback.

Speaking at Hampden Park, the national team boss said: “For me, football is never about revenge.

“It is all about the game coming up. What happened before, happened before.

“We want to finish the campaign on a positive for ourselves. We want to finish third in the section which is the best we can do now and that is what we are focusing on.

“We wanted to produce a big win against one of the two big seeds in the group. We didn’t manage to do that so the next best thing for us is to secure the third spot.”

After victories over San Marino and Cyprus, the former West Brom manager is keen to extend that winning run to three games.

He said: “It is important because as a national team you want to represent your country and win matches.

“It is something that we haven’t done enough of in the section and we want to finish with three wins on the bounce.

“In the same way in football, everyone talks about how losing games can become a habit, it is the same with winning games.

“It is important for this group of players to feel good about themselves after we play tomorrow night. But it is good opposition. I have watched Kazakhstan.

“Sometimes you look at the name of the nation and nobody looks at the team that is on the pitch. They are a good team, well-organised with some threats going forward.”

Kazakhstan boss Michal Bilek believes Scotland can get to the finals.

Speaking at Hampden Park, the former Czech Republic coach said: “In my eyes Scotland is a very good team, with very good players and good heart.

“Of course we believe Scotland have a chance to play further and qualify to Euro 2020.

“In the first match we played really well and were ahead from the 10th minute. We probably played our best match so far against Scotland.

“However, (Tuesday) is a new match, it is new history to write and I believe my players will give it all on the pitch.

“We know who is the favourites but we will try to play a good game.

“It is a pleasure for us that we can still compete for the third place. We want to be successful and get our points.

“Every new game brings new challenges and every game is different.”

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