The Scotland manager could not help but note Republic of Ireland’s home defeat to Luxembourg as he looked ahead to tomorrow’s clash with the Faroe Islands at Hampden. Luxembourg are ranked 98 but still managed to beat Stephen Kenny’s side, 42 in the FIFA rankings, with a late goal at the Aviva stadium to send shock waves around Europe.
Clarke stressed that this was a reminder that a win over Faroe Islands, who have twice held Scotland to draws, cannot be taken for granted as his side seek a first win of their latest World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Faroe Islands themselves demonstrated they should not be taken lightly by taking the lead against Austria on Sunday in Vienna. The hosts - and Group F favourites - scored three quick goals in reply but were held 0-0 by a side ranked 107 in the world in the second-half.
“You have to understand that these teams are now far better organised and more difficult to break down than they used to be a few years ago,” said Clarke.
“Just look at the problems Spain had against Georgia. I’m told they needed a winner in the 93rd minute so that just goes to prove that all these games are difficult. Then you just have to look at Slovakia drawing 2-2 at home to Malta the other night.
“The Faroes also took the lead against Austria so we know we can’t afford to take them lightly. But, at the same time, we do understand that it’s a game we have to win.”
Clarke said he was not surprised by the negative reaction to Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Israel from some quarters. He called for some perspective with Scotland still to play another eight games.
“It’s just the way things are,” he said. “Everybody gets a wee bit carried away in the heat of the moment. Everybody wants to judge things in that instant. It’s going to be a long group and there are lots of points still to play for, starting with the Faroes on Wednesday night.”