SCOTLAND have already tasted glory in a past tournament at the Homeless World Cup, and the class of 2009 are flying the flag for the nation at this year's finals in Milan.
Hopefully, it doesn't prove to be a bad omen, but they opened their campaign with a defeat on penalties to...the Netherlands.
Group games must produce a winner, so after a thrilling 3-3 draw, in which man of the match Joe Haldong scored a hat-trick (two of them spot-kicks) the match moved to penalties, which the Netherlands edged.
The report on the tournament's official website (www.homelessworldcup.org) conforms to footballing stereotypes by noting: "Netherlands played with their typical total football with a lot of very skilful players. Scotland played very aggressive and with a lot of physicality."
Scotland responded admirably to this setback yesterday, however. They were first match on in the Lombardia arena, and beat Finland 6-2, then beat Namibia 6-5 in the afternoon session. Today they play Switzerland, before concluding their group campaign against a name that will send shivers down the spine...Costa Rica.
See you Jimmy McFadden . . .
EX-PATS in Canada watching Saturday's Hampden match on the GolTV channel must have been alarmed to hear the match commentator refer to Scotland as "Rangers" during the second half – twice.
James McFadden was "Jimmy McFadden" throughout, and the channel's unique perspective on the match was further underlined when Shaun Maloney went close to scoring in the final few minutes, jabbing a shot past when he should have clinched a 3-0 victory. "Fills his pants a little bit with the finish," declared the co-commentator.
UPBEAT headlines everywhere yesterday as the nation's red-tops revelled in Scotland's 2-0 win against Macedonia at Hampden on Saturday.
The Sun ran a piece from James McFadden claiming his goal on Saturday was his best yet in a Scotland shirt, with a frame by frame picture sequence of his 60-yard run and finish. It was a wonderful goal certainly, but his match-winning strike against France in Paris in September 2007 surely is still the pick of his goals.
The same paper spoke to Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, on the mark in Saturday's 3-0 friendly win over Japan, and he warned Scotland: "Don't think we are coming to Glasgow on holiday – we want to win. Eight wins out of eight would be the perfect way to go to the finals."
Away from the mounting football fever, the Daily Record ran an amusing picture story on Page 3 of the paparazzi trying and failing to snap one of the most famous men in the world – Usain Bolt. Not surprisingly, a grinning Bolt left them trailing in his wake, "darting around on the pavement laughing as they tried to get a picture".
England to beat England in 2010?
WHILE Scotland must sweat over whether they are going to get anywhere near South Africa for the World Cup finals next year, our friends in the south are busy trying to work out who on earth can stop England winning the darn thing. A leading press agency yesterday put out a file of "five teams who could threaten their dreams of glory". Spain, Germany, and Brazil were candidates, but also in the quintet were England's group rivals Croatia and, even more bizarrely, hosts South Africa. They also missed out the biggest threat to England's chances...England themselves.