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Scotland v Qatar: Hosts focused on football amid controversy

Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths says the team’s focus is 100 per cent on football ahead of a controversial friendly with Qatar.

Gordon Strachan’s men welcome Qatar to Easter Road on Friday as they prepare for a Euro 2016 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland a week on Saturday.

But the Scottish Football Association (SFA) has come in for criticism for its decision to play the 2022 World Cup hosts due to concerns over working conditions at construction projects linked to the tournament.

The SFA has defended the fixture by insisting it is “important to separate this sporting fixture from the serious human rights issues emanating from Qatar”.

And speaking ahead of the meeting in Edinburgh, Griffiths said: “Whoever deals with it deals with it but as players we just concentrate on the game.

“We can only play who is in front of us and try to win the game. We will be doing that on Friday night and it will be a good test before we go to Dublin [to face the Republic of Ireland].”

Celtic man Griffiths is in line for his first cap since September 2013 and could feature as the lone striker for Strachan’s team.

“It’s kind of the same formation at Scotland as we play here [at Celtic],” Griffiths said. “It’s a 4-2-3-1 with one up front and obviously one behind.

“I’ve managed to do that on a regular basis since the turn of the year against Inter Milan and Salzburg. So if the manager is to throw me in I’ll be ready.

“This year when we’ve played one up front you’ve got to hold the ball up a lot more, make a lot of selfless runs. That’s the kind of thing I’ll need to do for Scotland as well.”

For Qatar, the encounter offers the chance to extend their unbeaten run to four games ahead of the start of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Qatar claimed wins over Algeria and Slovenia in March and displayed good resilience to come back from a goal down and claim a 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland last Sunday, Karim Boudiaf cancelling out Stuart Dallas’ opener.

And, with their opening qualifying match against the Maldives on the horizon a week on Thursday, coach Jose Daniel Carreno will be keen for another strong performance to build momentum ahead of a return to competitive football.

Wed 3 Jun, 2015
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