Monday, February 24, 2020

Burley turns up heat on Norway

SoccerNews in World Cup 7 Aug 2009

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Scotland boss George Burley turned up the heat ahead of Wednesday’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Norway by claiming all the pressure is on their rivals.

Burley’s men are currently in second position and four points clear Egil Olsen’s outfit, who have yet to win a game and are currently bottom of Group Nine.

Holland look destined to grab the automatic qualification spot, but Scotland have high hopes of finishing behind them with enough points to book a play-off place.

The 90 minutes in Oslo represent a final chance for Norway and Burley believes that is the perfect opportunity to kill off another rival in their bid to reach the finals in South Africa next summer.

He said: “We have the advantage at the moment as we are sitting second and they are bottom of the section. We are going there to get the right result for ourselves. I don’t think it’s a bad time to play them.

“They are the team that are under pressure at the moment. We are going there to try and build from our performance in the last game against Iceland. I was pleased with the shape and the way we played. We have to go there in the same manner and I’m sure that if we do, we can get a positive result.”

Norway passed up a host of chances during the 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture at Hampden and Burley expects his defence to face another examination, with Aston Villa John Carew expected to be the main threat.

“He is a world-class striker,” said Burley “We will have to be wary of that. They like to get the ball early to him and feed off him. We have to be ready.”

The Scots assembled at their training base at Loch Lomond with just 13 players as a number of Burley’s key men, including skipper and Manchester United ace Darren Fletcher, are playing for their clubs this weekend.

Fletcher chose to play for the Red Devils at Wembley against Chelsea in the Community Shield – the annual curtain raiser to the English Premier League season.

Burley admits it will be anxious few days as he hopes his squad, which is already without first-choice goalkeeper Craig Gordon through injury, remains intact.

He said: “It will be a nervy weekend. They are always nervy but you usually have longer to prepare for World Cup games. It’s not ideal but that won’t take away from our focus.

“We fly out on Monday, so if anybody gets knocks it doesn’t give them too long to get over them. Hopefully they come through without any problems.

“Darren Fletcher is totally committed to Scotland and it’s understandable that he wanted to play for Manchester United. He was in an impossible position, it’s a big match and there is always huge competition for places at his club. You can’t blame him and we’re hoping he will be fine.”

One man who is with the squad is Celtic’s Scott Brown.

He has been suffering from an ankle injury but played an hour of the Hoops’ friendly last week against Sunderland before making an impact as a sub in their 2-0 win over Dynamo Moscow on Wednesday.

Burley added: “It’s very much about taking each day with Scott and assessing the situation closer to the game.”

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