Steve Clarke on Ukraine result requirement as manager addresses Queen applause controversy

Steve Clarke has labelled tonight’s re-match with Ukraine at Hampden as must-not-lose as Scotland seek to bank a play-off place for Euro 2024.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke on eve of the Nations League fixture against Ukraine. He has branded the game must-not-lose (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Scotland manager Steve Clarke on eve of the Nations League fixture against Ukraine. He has branded the game must-not-lose (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It might not be a rallying cry to stir the soul before the sold-out Nations League clash. But the manager knows it is vital Scotland's chances of topping Group B1 remain alive when they host Republic of Ireland on Saturday and before facing the return clash against Ukraine in Krakow next week.

Clarke also expressed the hope that the home crowd respect the minute’s applause before the game in tribute to the late Queen. The Scottish FA submitted a request to Uefa to hold the applause before the first international game at Hampden since Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle just over a fortnight ago.

Clarke said he would applaud and he hoped every supporter did likewise. However, it wasn’t for the Scotland manager to tell individuals how to think and act.

“I think for me I will do my usual and show the respect that should be shown on such an occasion,” he said. “For other people? I don’t think it is for me to judge. But hopefully it goes off and it is a respectful moment before the game.”

Scotland have won two of their first three Nations League group games though both of those wins came against bottom side Armenia. “I think we are in a good position,” said Clarke when invited to address Scotland’s situation. “We picked up the six points we needed.

"What I would like from this week is to go to the last game against Ukraine in Poland with a realistic chance of topping the group. If we do that and give ourselves a chance to be top of the group that would be a good outcome.”

Scotland have work to do in home games against Ukraine and Republic of Ireland, who beat the Scots 3-0 in June. “Mathematically it’s not a certainty that we need to win them both, but we certainly need to win one and not lose the other one,” said Clarke. “You can work out from that how many points we need.”

The manager hasn't yet called up any outfield replacements after striker Jacob Brown and defender Grant Hanley withdrew on Monday and neither has he put players on standby.

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