Craig Gordon: 'No room for debate' over Scotland desire as he makes Andy Robertson celebration

With his Scotland career having spanned four previous failed attempts to reach the World Cup finals, Craig Gordon isn’t about to entertain any suggestion he should be happy to stand aside and wave Ukraine on their way to Qatar at Hampden on Wednesday night.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson (left) in conversation with team-mates and manager Steve Clarke (right) during training at the Oriam in Edinburgh on Tuesday. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Scotland captain Andy Robertson (left) in conversation with team-mates and manager Steve Clarke (right) during training at the Oriam in Edinburgh on Tuesday. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

The play-off semi-final takes place against an unprecedented backdrop of widespread sympathy for Scotland’s opponents, to the extent that even former national team captain Graeme Souness has expressed a wish for Ukraine to progress as a retort to Russia’s military invasion.

It’s a sentiment which cuts no ice with Scotland goalkeeper Gordon as the 39-year-old looks to make the most of what is likely to be his last chance to make it to football’s greatest stage.

“I know everybody here, our aim is to get to the World Cup,” said Gordon. “No matter which team gets put in our way, we have to try to win the match. There is no room for that (debate). It is up to each individual supporter to decide what they want. For us as a group, we want to try to win a football match.

Craig Gordon pictured during a Scotland training session at Oriam in Edinburgh on Tuesday ahead of the World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden on Wednesday. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

“He (Souness) is entitled to his opinion. It doesn’t really matter. I know the guys that go out on the pitch, the squad here, would desperately love to get to a World Cup. It’s maybe a bit different for him - he’s not playing now. For us players, these opportunities don’t come around very often. We desperately want to make this our time. We have a very difficult match to win just to get through to the next stage. So that’s all we are concentrating on. We want to go and try to win that and whoever anybody wants to support, that’s entirely up to them.

“We just have to concentrate on the football. Yes (it is easy to do that) because that’s what we’re trained to do. We can’t even imagine what’s going on (in Ukraine). We have no clue really. We can’t understand exactly what all these players are going through, what each individual’s circumstances are. What we have to do is concentrate on football, be ready and make sure we are as prepared as we can be to try to win the match.

"When we’re in this environment, we are kind of closed off to what’s going on outwith. For us, it’s about what we can control. We know they are going to come ready. They have had a month-long training camp so they will be at full speed. They have been playing matches so we expect the very best that they can offer and we will need to play very well to try and beat them. It doesn’t matter if neutrals want Ukraine to win.”

Gordon, meanwhile, admitted he was surprised by criticism directed towards Scotland captain Andy Robertson for being pictured with a beer in hand during Liverpool’s open-top bus parade on Sunday.

“Andy will be ready to play,” he said. “He’s played so many games in the past couple of seasons, he’s one short of 120 games in two seasons or something crazy like that.

“So I think we can give him one beer and I’m sure he will be absolutely ready and flying up and down that left-hand side as he has for the last couple of years.”


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