Steve Clarke insists Scotland don’t want to be one-hit wonders as they prepare to get their World Cup qualifying campaign underway.
By reaching this summer’s European Championship, the national side ended a 23-year wait to get to a major finals.
Although the Euros are something to look forward, they have been placed on the backburner for the time being, with Austria the visitors at Hampden this evening in the first match of the qualification campaign for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
Clarke doesn’t want the Euros to be a flash in the pan when it comes to tournament qualification.
The Scotland boss said: “I think it would be special for everybody (to reach the World Cup). We want to be consistently successful.
“We don’t just want to qualify for one tournament, rest on our laurels then wait another 23 years.
“I will be in my 80s if we have to wait that long.
“I would much rather qualify for the next one coming up, so that is the target. The target is Qatar 2022.”
Players want to be successful
With a congested fixture list at club and international level, preparation time for the Austria clash, Sunday’s meeting with Israel in Tel Aviv and the Faroe Islands next Wednesday at Hampden has been limited.
But Clarke says the Scots are raring to go and added: “It’s a short period of time to prepare, but the mood in the camp was immediately good, which tells you the lads are in a good place, they want to be here, they want to represent their country.
“And they want to be successful, they don’t want to qualify for one tournament and then miss out on the next one.
“We want to qualify for Qatar 2022 and it starts tonight.
“It’s a tough start against a team that’s seeded above us, but we think we are in a good place and we think we have a good team and we want to show that on the pitch.”
Hoping for a good start
Since qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France, Scotland have traditionally been slow starters in qualification campaigns, having won only three of their 11 group openers since then.
Clarke knows the importance of a good start to this section against an Austria side which is seeded second in Group F.
The 57-year-old said: “Listen, a good start is important. Obviously without putting too much pressure on ourselves, we want to start the group well.
“We won’t know until the end of the campaign what a good points total will be, so it’s important we don’t put ourselves under too much pressure, but of course a winning start would be good, especially because we’re playing a team seeded above us.
“Austria are seeded to finish second in the group, so if we got a good start against them that would hopefully set us up for a good campaign.”
Selection dilemmas for boss
Clarke is pleased with the options he has in his squad and admits he will have some difficult decisions to make when selecting sides for the three upcoming qualifiers.
Southampton striker Che Adams and Hibs forward Kevin Nisbet have been called up to the squad for the first time, while Norwich defender Grant Hanley and KV Oostende counterpart Jack Hendry have returned to the fold.
He said: “When we got them into training, I looked at the squad and at the level and standard of the training sessions and I turned to John Carver (coach) and said ‘I’ve just given myself more problems, the standard’s gone up’.
“It’s really good, it’s been good to see. Hopefully I can get the balance right across the three games and we can pick up the points.
“They have all fitted in well and Jack Hendry and Grant Hanley have fitted in as if they have never been away from the international scene, which is good.
“The two new boys, Che and Kevin, have come in and really been impressive.
“You can tell from reaction of the other players in the group that they are happy with the squad and the make-up of the squad. Hopefully that can only bode well for the future.”
⚽️🎙️ Stephen Glass confirmed as @AberdeenFC manager:
🔴 Glass' immediate priorities
🔴 Recruitment and player development strategy
🔴 Scott Brown on his way?
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) March 24, 2021