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Gibraltar v Scotland: Focus on Strachan ahead of ´pointless´ game

The future of manager Gordon Strachan is dominating the agenda in the build-up to Scotland’s final match of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, a dead rubber away to Gibraltar on Sunday.

Scotland were eliminated from contention in Group D after conceding in injury time to draw 2-2 at home to Poland on Thursday.

The Republic of Ireland’s surprise 1-0 win at home to world champions Germany means Martin O’Neill’s men are guaranteed at least a play-off berth.

Joachim Low’s World Cup winners are top on 19 points, one ahead of second-placed Poland and Ireland, who are level on 18 points.

The permutations of Ireland’s visit to Poland and Germany’s game at home to Georgia on the final matchday though will mean nothing to Scotland, whose wait for a first major championship appearance since the 1998 World Cup in France continues.

“Pointless is probably the game on Sunday,” Strachan said after the painful draw at Hampden Park. “That will be a hard one, that will be a hard one to take.”

Opinion is divided on Strachan’s prospects of continuing in the country’s top job. 

The former Leeds United and Manchester United player has restored a measure of pride to the national team, orchestrating an eye-catching win over Croatia in the most recent World Cup qualifying campaign, as well as competitive performances in the recent daunting showdowns with Germany.

The ex-Coventry City, Southampton and Celtic boss attempted to deflect questions about his future in the immediate aftermath of the latest failed qualification attempt.

“To talk about me is all wrong, I leave that to other people but for me to speak about it is all wrong,” he said.

“I have people in this building hurting at the moment and I need to look after them.”

The game against Gibraltar is set to take place at Euro 2004 venue Estadio Algarve, another painful reminder of what Scotland will be missing out on at the finals in France next June and July.

Minnows Gibraltar – the hosts of this weekend’s match, albeit one taking place at a neutral location – have lost all eight of their qualifying matches so far, conceding 50 goals and scoring just two.

They can at least take some comfort from the fact that of those two goals scored, one was against Scotland in the previous meeting between the teams, a match Strachan’s men won 6-1 at Hampden Park in March.

Fri 9 Oct, 2015
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