Scots making SAR visit with eye on Euro success

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 2002, 12:00am

Scotland coach Berti Vogts says he's using next week's Reunification Cup to prepare his young squad for the Euro qualifying matches and isn't looking for glory in Hong Kong just yet.

The former German national coach said the SAR was an important build-up to the Euro qualifiers and Scotland would bloom in the near future with a young side set to go places.

'I think we have a very good chance of qualifying, and I am very encouraged by some of the young players who have come into the squad. They will have a major impact on the team over the next two years,' said Vogts. 'Obviously our main rivals are Germany, but I know how they play and how they think, and I am sure they can be overcome. Iceland, too, are very dangerous opponents and it is vital that we get a good result in Rejkjavik in October.'

Vogts, who earned the nickname 'Der Terrier' for his tenacious play, said Hong Kong provided the first opportunity for him to spend some time with not just the players, but the backroom staff and even the Scottish media. 'Before the France [Scotland were thrashed 5-0 in a friendly in Paris] match, and the Nigeria match [Scotland lost 2-1 in Pittodrie], we had only two days, with three training sessions.

'So, while I will learn a lot from the matches and the players' performances, it is also very important that we use this trip to build up a good team spirit.'

Scotland narrowly missed out on qualifying for the World Cup finals but Vogts' is confident of Euro success. 'You are largely experimenting with new and young players, but the opening game in the qualifying game in the European Championship is away to the Faroes on September 7. It is time for me to assess all the available players and select my best team. I already know who eight of the players will be.

'However, the team does still need time to develop and play together, so when we planned the fixtures it was important to have only two matches this year, and play the others next year when our plans will be much more developed.'

Vogts said Scotland had always been solid in midfield, but lacked power up-front in recent years.

'The lack of goals is not just a problem for the forwards, it is also a problem for the midfield. They have to provide the ball to the forwards for them to score. So, I will work with the team to ensure that the forwards are given the opportunity to score, otherwise they cannot be expected to get goals all by themselves.'

Scotland played World Cup joint hosts South Korea in Busan last night, losing 4-1 before coming to Hong Kong today to play in the Reunification Cup.

Scotland take on South Africa on Monday and then the Hong Kong League XI three days later in the four-team competition, which also includes World Cup hopefuls Turkey.

'Germany played South Africa a few years ago, and they are a big strong team who play in the European style. The Hong Kong League team is an unknown quantity, but I know from past events they have a good reputation and I look forward to finding out more about them,' said Vogts.