WILL CLARK: Reason for Scotland to be excited for Euro 2024 whatever happens when the draw is made this week
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
As you’re reading this, it was at least my plan to visit the DMZ between the border of South Korea and North Korea today – as a tourist, not a negotiator for reunification, although if asked I’ll give it a go.
Next summer, there is a chance of crossing borders closer to home after Scotland qualified for Euro 2024.
It has been three long years since Scotland last played at a major tournament.
Admittedly, that is lot sooner than the previous 23 years the Tartan Army had to wait having not previously qualified since 1998, but even three years ago Covid denied fans the chance to follow their team in their masses, playing in stadiums where fans were forced to sit several seats away from each other to prevent infection.
This time, the Tartan Army can do it properly and look forward to a summer of “bier”, “bratwurst”, und “Fussball” in Germany.
Scotland will find out their fate when the Euro 2024 draw is made on Saturday and for a while it seemed to appear being in pot three instead of pot two was ideal.
Surely that was the reason Scotland allowed Norway a late equaliser at Hampden in a 3-3 draw. A master stroke by Steve Clarke.
Then Italy nearly made a horlicks of qualifying and find themselves in pot four instead. Leading to the possibility of a really tough group.
Pot one includes hosts Germany, Portugal, France, Spain, Belgium and England.
I would take Spain again no problem. In both qualifying matches, even the one Scotland lost, Spain did not impress me at all and they are there for the taking.
The nightmare scenario would be France, who are the best team in Europe by a mile just now.
Pot two includes Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Denmark, Albania and Austria.
Frankly, I would take anyone of them and fancy Scotland to beat them.
Yes, Denmark won our World Cup qualifying group for Qatar 2022, but in the actual tournament, they had to be the biggest flop of the World Cup.
So dominant and free scoring during the qualifiers, they went out of the World Cup with a limpest of whimpers.
Maybe through ignorance I would take Albania from pot two.
Don’t knock them. They won a qualifying group which included Czechia and Poland and deserve a lot of respect.
However, the only Albanian player I could name you is Rudi Vata, and he’s 54.
Pot four includes defending champions Italy. Yes, they haven’t qualified for the last two World Cups and scraped through this qualifying campaign with a 0-0 draw against Ukraine, but still no thanks.
They are the kind of team capable of turning it on, like they did when they deservedly won Euro 2020.
I’ll take one of the other five please. Serbia and Switzerland are definitely two of the options.
Play-offs in March will decide the final three teams. Luxembourg are in the mix after all of a sudden becoming good. I would certainly take them if on offer.
I’ll try and find a bar in Seoul on Saturday and find out who we get over a bowl of Kimchi.
In all honesty, I couldn’t care less who we get. It’s just great Scotland are qualifying for tournaments again.
And the fact it is being hosted in a fantastic country like Germany means tens of thousands are likely to make the trip across in what will be a summer to remember.