Monday, June 17, 2024

Clarke aims for four-point target as Scotland hope for Euro 2024 progression

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Jun 2024

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Steve Clarke hopes to take Scotland into the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time at Euro 2024, with their target simply four points to progress.

Scotland have failed in their previous 11 attempts across the World Cup and European Championship to make it past the group stages.

Hosts Germany await in the Group A opener for Clarke’s side on Friday before clashes with Switzerland and Hungary.

With the top two sides progressing, as well as four of the best third-placed finishers, Clarke made his ambitions clear for the upcoming UEFA tournament.

“The bottom line is we need four points to come out the group, that guarantees that you’ll come out of the group almost forever,” Clarke told BBC Sport.

“That always happens. Three points and a zero goal difference would probably get out of the group so that’s what we have to look at – every game in isolation, make sure that we’re competitive in every game and realistically you go into the last game with a chance to qualify.

“Hopefully, we’ve done it before that with the points tally from the first two games but if we get to the last game like we did in the last tournament, we had to go to Wembley, we had to get at least a point against England, we gave ourselves a chance going into the Croatia game.

“Okay, we didn’t quite get over the line but at one each in the Croatia game you’ve got a chance, you’ve always got that hope, that expectation that you might do it.”

Scotland will appear at their fourth European Championship, after 1992, 1996 and 2020, having failed to reach the knockout stages in each of those tournaments.

Clarke’s side have just two wins in the finals of the tournament’s history, against CIS in 1992 and Switzerland in 1996, and have not found the net in six of their nine matches.

The Scotland manager will become just the third to lead his nation to consecutive international tournaments, along with Andy Roxburgh (1990 World Cup, Euro 92) and Craig Brown (Euro 96, 1998 World Cup).

His message to the players is clear: take it to the last game.

Clarke added: “We play against Hungary in the last game, that’s where we want to be – in a similar situation where we know we can get a result and we can qualify.”

As for Scotland’s starting line-up in Munich, captain Andy Robertson and Lawrence Shankland returned to training in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Tuesday.

“I’ve probably got two in my mind that I’m still mulling over and we’ll work on that in the next couple of days,” Clarke concluded.

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