Scotland will take on England on Remembrance Day next year in the first of two meetings that could go a long way to deciding the World Cup fate of Gordon Strachan’s team.
The first competitive clash between the countries since 1999’s Euro 2000 play-off ties will take place on Friday 11 November at Wembley. The return fixture between the old rivals is scheduled for Hampden Park on Saturday 10 June, 2017.
The complete fixture list for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign was finalised yesterday after Scotland and England were drawn together in Group F, along with Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.
Scotland kick-off their qualifying campaign away to Malta on 4 September next year, while England start with a game in Slovakia on the same night. Scotland round off their fixtures in Slovenia on 8 October 2017 while England finish with an away game against Lithuania.
But it is the pair of fixtures against each other that has caught the imagination of Scotland and England fans. It will be the first time the countries have met in the World Cup since the Home Internationals doubled as qualifiers in 1950 and 1954.
Scotland manager Strachan has described the draw as being one that “has made a lot of people happy”.
Roy Hodgson, his opposite number, anticipated an “unbelievable” atmosphere at the Scotland v England games, something he said was the case in the recent friendly matches between the sides, in 2013 and last year.
Both fixtures commanded big crowds, with England winning 3-2 and, most recently at Celtic Park, 3-1.
The first occasion at Wembley brought to an end a long hiatus in the oldest international rivalry, with the countries having not met since the play-off matches in 1999, which England won 2-1 on aggregate.
Speaking yesterday, Scotland coach Stuart McCall said he was delighted to draw England, having enjoyed recent competitive clashes with Wales and the Republic of Ireland. “It’s fantastic, the whole buzz it will create,” McCall said. “And England will be delighted to get Scotland as well.
“When you look at Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta, not too many people will know much about them.
“Most will make England favourites and think we’ll battle with Slovakia for second but there’s a long way to go.
“I was saying before the draw that I fancied England,” added McCall. “We’ve had Wales in the previous group, we’ve got the Republic of Ireland in this one, so it’s worked out nicely.
“But who knows? We might get through to Euro 2016 and be in their group!”
Hodgson, meanwhile, believes that the Auld Enemy clashes will stimulate extra interest in the group for England fans.
“The Scotland fixture stands out as it’s the oldest rivalry among football nations and, if the friendlies are anything to judge by, they will be very exciting games, and very tense and intense,” he said.
“The atmosphere will be unbelievable.
“If anyone wants to see what a really fanatic football atmosphere is like I would invite them to Wembley when we play Scotland or to the match up there and they will see what passionate football support is all about.”