Scotland's World Cup play-off boost as FIFA sanction yellow card reprieve

Steve Clarke and Scotland have scored a World Cup qualifying play-off victory already – weeks before the semi-final with Ukraine in March.

Eight national team players had a caution from the group stage hanging over them for the Hampden showdown, with the threat of a second incurring a suspension and potentially missing a play-off final against Austria or Wales if Scotland progressed.

The manager spoke out about the predicament, which saw all eight walk a tightrope against Denmark in the final game, sealing a home draw for the opening March match against Oleksandr Petrakov’s team without being banned.

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But with the threat continuing to linger the Scottish FA appealed to UEFA for a yellow card amnesty and their request to FIFA has been sanctioned with all carrying cautions wiped out.

The good news was broken on the Scottish national teams’ social media account: “Following our request to UEFA, we're pleased to confirm that FIFA have cancelled all cautions ahead of the World Cup play-offs in March.”

That means Clarke’s captain Andy Robertson and talisman John McGinn, plus Scott McTominay, Billy Gilmour, Che Adams, Jack Hendry, Stephen O’Donnell and Kevin Nisbet, can approach the March 26 match with a clean slate and, barring a red card, would be free to face the finalists for a place in Qatar this winter should Scotland progress.

As well as a welcome relief, it is an early victory for Scotland and Clarke who hit out at the ruling and it’s fairness while calling for an amnesty a call supported by Welsh manager Rob Page – Scotland’s potential play-off final opponent – who has Aaron Ramsey among seven players on a yellow.

"I fully support it, absolutely," Page said. "I see it especially from Scotland's point of view because they had six teams in their group and had more games to play. It is what it is. But if we can influence a change we absolutely will."

Scotland manager Steve Clarke's squad selection will be unhindered by yellow card suspensions for the World Cup play-offs. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Turkey would have been worst affected with 13 players at risk of missing a possible final, while Euro 2020 winners Italy had 10, the same as Sweden, Poland and North Macedonia. Portugal had fewest with six players on a yellow card.

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John McGinn was one of those with a suspension threat wielded over them before FIFA's wipe-out (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
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