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Scotland can't freeze against Iceland

Chick Young | 15:34 UK time, Monday, 30 March 2009

Interestingly, Scotland finish the group stages of the campaign against Holland on the ninth of September 2009.

The digits 999 though, might be useful before then.

This is a World Cup emergency but I suspect the collective talents of the police, the fire service, the ambulance crews, the coastguard and the SAS couldn't save us now.

scotland446.jpgGeorge Burley reckons we can afford a draw in one of the four remaining games against Iceland, Macedonia and the Dutch at Hampden and Norway in Oslo, but I can't see us escaping with that kind of generosity.

It's not just second place we're looking for here: we have to ensure one of the other eight group runners-up has a worse tally than us and 14 points will be no guarantee.

At the moment there is no team in the silver medal slot with less than seven points, although in six-team sections they discount the results against the bottom side.

I'm sorry, chaps, but to extract ourselves from this quicksand we'll need the Full Monty of 12 points from four games starting right here, right now at Hampden.

You had better start praying that Iceland are as fragile as their financial infrastructure.

Anything but a win is unthinkable and, to be fair, we look capable of that, which at least would leave hope springing over the summer and into the new term.

Scotland actually played tig with a good performance at times in Holland although when the second goal went in with a full 45 minutes to come I thought we were trapped in the middle lane facing an oncoming Dutch juggernaut.

I'll forgive the team everything in Amsterdam because Holland are the real deal and potential winners of the tournament itself never mind our qualifying group.

But the atmosphere in the fabulous ArenA was a stark reminder that, despite the rise of the club game, the World Cup is the greatest sporting tournament on earth.

And 12 years is too long in its wilderness. Frankly, I have become sick and tired in the last two tournaments of being the nation that is the skint kid with his nose stuck to the sweetie shop window drooling in envy at the wonderment of it all.

The World Cup is for nations who like to party. And the publicans and restaurateurs and I daresay one or two other service providers in Amsterdam will testify to the talents of the Tartan Army in the R and R department.

There is huge responsibility now on the shoulders of the Scotland manager and his players to reach out a embrace a play-off spot, which in itself will unveil another huge obstacle.

It could be Russia or Croatia or France or Slovakia who await... but that is a headache for another day.

Courage, Scotland, do not stumble now.

Iceland, the upstarts who currently sit second in our group, must be swept aside - and with style.

Give us a reason to believe that we will sit at the game's great table next summer.

Three points now and the promise of more where that came from when the injuries heal and James McFadden and the rest are available. Surely that is not too much to ask?

And then when the ninth day of the ninth month in the ninth year comes to pass we will still be in the game.

Failing that, never mind the emergency services, has anyone got a number for the Samaritans?


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