Scotland boss Steve Clarke raps UEFA over Ukraine and makes 'sporting integrity' claim

Steve Clarke admits he felt sympathy for Ukraine after they were forced to play a World Cup play-off final against Wales just four days after beating Scotland at Hampden Park.

Ukraine's World Cup dream came to and end against Wales.
Ukraine's World Cup dream came to and end against Wales.

Despite his own frustrations, the Scotland manager watched Sunday’s clash at the Cardiff City Stadium and saw Ukraine lose 1-0 after skipper Andriy Yarmolenko deflected Gareth Bale’s free kick past his own ‘keeper.

Many Scotland supporters found the match difficult viewing after the wrench of last midweek’s loss. That wasn't the case for Clarke, who already had his manager's hat back on. He took the opportunity to study how Wales manager Rob Page successfully coped with the visitors' threat ahead of September, when Scotland are due to meet Ukraine twice in the space of seven days in Nations League fixtures.

Clarke watched a drained Ukraine throw everything at the hosts in pursuit of an equaliser. He questioned why the victors of the play-off semi-final were given so little time to prepare for the final compared to Wales, who had a Nations League fixture against Poland when they were able to rest many of their first-choice players.

“I watched it,” said Clarke. “It wasn’t a hard watch. I felt sorry for Ukraine because they were asked to empty themselves at Hampden and then three days later they had to go again. That was a tough task.

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“I’m not so sure Uefa’s fair play or sporting integrity was in play for that one. It was tough for Ukraine and I felt for them. But congratulations to Wales, I’m not taking anything away from the Welsh.

“Ukraine emptied themselves at Hampden, they had to,” Clarke added. “To have two massive games like that in such a short space of time was difficult for them. They put so much into the Hampden game and I felt for them a little bit. But you have to take your hat off to Wales. They have had another great qualifying campaign and they are going to Qatar so well done to the Welsh.”