Thursday, September 20, 2018 01:58:53 PM
Scotland face Albania in their first Nations League match on Monday with long-suffering fans hoping they can take the first step on the road to ending a 20-year absence from major tournaments.
The new competition is designed to replace international friendlies with more competitive matches and also provides a second route to qualification for the European Championship.
And with Glasgow's Hampden Park one of the host venues for the tournament in 2020, it gives Alex McLeish's team, thumped 4-0 by Belgium in a friendly on Friday, added incentive to qualify.
The Scots reached five successive World Cups between 1974 and 1990 thanks to top-quality players such as Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Denis Law, Billy Bremner and Archie Gemmill.
But two decades and 10 major international tournaments have passed since Scotland faced Brazil in the opening game of France 98.
A generation of Scots has been forced to look on enviously as other, smaller, nations such as Iceland, Croatia and neighbours Wales and Northern Ireland have qualified for major tournaments.
Managerial mistakes, lack of facilities, poor youth development and even genetics have been suggested as possible reasons for Scotland's qualification woes.
Former Rangers, Brighton and Manchester City forward Gordon Smith -- who was chief executive of the Scottish Football Association (SFA) from 2007 to 2010 -- says everyone from the government down should shoulder some of the blame.
"There are a lot more nations aiming to qualify now and the standard has improved greatly but I think the biggest disappointment for Scotland is looking at nations the size of Iceland qualifying," Smith told AFP.
"They put a lot of work into changing things and I would give them a lot of credit for that. They changed their game in order to make sure they were producing better players.
"Why has Iceland's football improved so much? Because they've spent a lot of money on facilities."
Smith said Scotland lacks facilities, including indoor pitches, but that the government does not see building infrastructure as their duty with all the money washing around in the game.
"But I think the government has to get involved in order to get these facilities built because they are crucial to the standards we need to reach," he said.
SFA performance director Malky Mackay, who has responsibility for Project Brave, set up to develop young players, agrees that Scotland lacks sporting facilities.
"You look at Iceland," he told BBC Scotland. "They built 10 indoor domes for them in a country that for six months of the year it was dark. All of a sudden kids were able to play all year round and their touch got better.
"Lo and behold, their under-17s and under-19s and full squad have started improving. We have got to get kids the facilities."
Smith believes Scotland are slowly starting to reap the rewards for an increasing focus on youth development.
"One of the problems we had for a number of years was this pathway to bring through young players wasn't there and we had very few players playing at the highest level," he said.
"Rangers and Celtic had a lot of foreign players in their teams and there weren't as many Scottish players at the highest level in England as there were in the past.
"But I think we are getting there. We are bringing through a lot more good young players and there's quite a few now playing down in England, which is good as the standards there are high.
"We now need to make sure that the people who are taking the professional players, when they get to that level, are coaching them in the right way and the right manner in order that we can compete."
Smith is optimistic about the future and has faith that the current crop of Scotland players can finally bring the Tartan Army's wait for a major tournament to an end.
"You've got a whole generation now of people who have never seen Scotland in a big tournament and that includes most of the players who are actually trying to qualify," the former SFA chief executive said.
"But if you look at recent history we're getting close to qualification. We're not that far away."
Tributes flowed Wednesday for charismatic Japanese Mixed Martial Artist ( MMA) Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who died at age 41, three weeks after announcing a battle with cancer.Born to a family of wrestlers and martial artists, the wiry, tattoo-covered Yamamoto took on larger opponents in a wide range of MMA events, ...
A STUDY has revealed that 4,300 acres of hills and forests have been razed in Cox's Bazar to set up refugee camps and cooking fuel for Rohingyas who fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Quoting the study, news media reported that about 3,000-4,000 acres of hill land at Teknaf and Ukhia ...
AP, Pyongyang :The leaders of North and South Korea announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. But the premier pledge on denuclearization contained a big condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stating he'd permanently dismantle ...
Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims to have slept with Donald Trump over a decade ago, says in her upcoming tell-all book that it may have been the "least impressive sex" she'd ever had, The Guardian reported Tuesday.In her book, "Full Disclosure," Daniels also provides a graphic description of ...
Actor Hina Khan believes Bigg Boss helped her showcase her real personality, which is that of a woman who does not shy away from speaking her mind. The actor became one of the most talked about contestants on the 11th edition of the reality TV show, which has just begun ...
PAKISTAN government has decided to grant nationality to all Pakistan-born refugees of Bangladeshi and Afghan origins staying there for decades. Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan on Sunday made this announcement during his maiden visit to Karachi, saying the Bangladeshi and Afghan refugees who were born in Pakistan would get National ...
AFP, Barcelona :FIFA president Gianni Infantino has expressed concern about La Liga's proposal to stage a fixture between Girona and Barcelona in the United States.The two clubs have each approved a request submitted to the Spanish Football Federation for the match to be played at the Hard Rock Stadium in ...
Actress Annie Sekhon who has worked in many television shows and Punjabi films is having the time of her life. Off late she's been enjoying the success of her latest Punjabi film, 'Punjab Singh' opposite Gurjind Maan. The hangover of this film hasn't even faded yet and she's taking a ...
Best Drama Series: Game of ThronesBest Comedy Series: The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselBest Actor, Drama Series: Matthew Rhys, The AmericansBest Actress, Drama Series: Claire Foy, The CrownBest Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, Game of ThronesBest Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Thandie Newton, WestworldBest Writing, Drama Series: Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, ...
Reuters, Washington :U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the United States would cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30,000 for fiscal year 2019, a sharp drop from a limit of 45,000 it set for 2018."We proposed resettling up to 30,000 refugees under the ...
EDITORS' Council on Saturday expressed its surprise, dissatisfaction, and shock at the final report of a parliamentary standing committee on the draft Digital Security Act which totally ignored the concerns expressed by journalists. Following disapproval from journalists, rights campaigners and foreign diplomats in Dhaka, the Law Minister earlier had admitted ...