Scotland Under-16s face a winner-takes-all encounter against Republic of Ireland in today’s sell-out Victory Shield deciding match in Oriam football centre in Edinburgh.
While much of the focus this week was on the debut of Celtic’s 13-year-old talent, Karamoko Dembele, the performances of Brian McLaughlin’s Scots side have given plenty of cause for optimism.
Scotland began with a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland and took a two-goal lead against holders Wales before being pegged back and had to settle for a draw. But they face a tough ask against an Irish side who, most of the observers in the capital this week have agreed, look the best side in the tournament.
They thumped the Welsh 4-0 and followed that up with a 2-1 win against Northern Ireland. A point would win them the trophy today and McLaughlin accepts it will be a difficult task. He said: “Ireland will be a different test for us. They are a very good team.
“But we’ve got a squad of 22 and we are comfortable about using them all.
“Their attitude has been terrific. They want to train and they want to become good footballers. It’s all about learning at this stage in their careers.”
The spotlight will again be on Dembele and he is an option to start after his impressive 26-minute cameo against Wales.
But Motherwell’s Jamie Semple will hope to add to the two goals he netted and he will be ably assisted by Hearts duo Chris Hamilton and Harry Cochrane, with Rangers midfielder Billy Gilmore attracting plenty of attention too.