Gary Caldwell tips Scots to end barren run
HE CLASSIFIES the first two games of the World Cup qualifying campaign as “must win” fixtures but when it comes to Wednesday night’s final warm up, against Australia at Easter Road, he says it is the performance rather than the result that matters.
Gary Caldwell is just two caps shy of a place in the Hall of Fame and has been through several doomed journeys towards major championships, and he says that while the friendly against the Aussies offers the squad a shot at redemption following a poor showing in the States earlier this summer, it is on the competitive matches that everything rests.
“It would be good to into the campaign on the back of a win but it’s when the qualifiers start that the result is the be all and end all. In friendlies you shouldn’t look too much in to them, it’s more about how the team sets up, about partnerships,” says the Wigan defender, likely to face his former Celtic team-mate Scott MacDonald at Easter Road.
Scotland will springboard from that game into a key double-header just a few weeks later, against Serbia and then Macedonia. Both are at Hampden and the side has to capitalise on home advantage.
“Two wins are a must. We wanted the two home games to get us a strong start and as a squad we look at the home games as being really important. We believe we can definitely beat every team in the group at home and on the road we can take our chances and try to pick up points.
“There are some great teams in there but not one nation that jumps out like the last group with Spain. In our last two tournaments it was always going to be a big ask to qualify but this one will be different in that every team will be hard to beat, every team will be looking to win all their home games so on the road every point will be a bonus.”
Caldwell made his international debut in a 5-0 drubbing in the Stade De France. Since then there have been highs and lows, but he believes this squad offers him his best chance of an appearance at a World Cup finals.
“The group of players we have, around 20 to 30 the manager has now, is probably the best I’ve been a part of so hopefully this is the time the country can get back to a major finals.
“You see with the Olympics what it can do for the country. . A World Cup finals could do the same for us.”
• Tickets for Scotland v Australia are available on 0844 248 5155, at the Hibernian FC ticket office and via www.ticketmaster.co.uk
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