‘It’s difficult to see’: Scotland manager Steve Clarke admits he is not expecting his side’s World Cup play-off against Ukraine to go ahead in June because of the ongoing conflict and suspension of football in the country
- Scotland had been due to face Ukraine in a World Cup play-off on Thursday
- The game at Hampden Park was postponed after Russia invaded Ukraine
- A new date in June had been set to be scheduled but that now looks unlikely
- Scotland boss Steve Clarke said it was ‘difficult’ to see the game going ahead
Steve Clarke says he cannot see Scotland’s World Cup play-off against Ukraine going ahead in June.
The two nations should have been playing at Hampden Park on Thursday evening but the game was postponed earlier this month following Russia’s invasion of their neighbouring country.
A date in early June was set to be scheduled but that now looks unlikely given the ongoing conflict and suspension of football in Ukraine.
Clarke believes their opponents should be given as much time as possible to fulfil the fixture, from which the winners will face Wales or Austria for a place at Qatar 2022.
Scotland had been due to play Ukraine in a World Cup play-off on Thursday night
But the fact the finals kick off on November 21 means any delay until August or September at the earliest leaves little time for the qualifying nation to arrange logistics. It could yet be that FIFA have to proceed without Ukraine.
Clarke said: ‘If you’re asking me now, “Will the game go ahead in June?”, then it’s going to be difficult. If you’re honest about the situation now, then it’s difficult to see.
‘It’s not just the fixture, it’s the fact they need to get together, have a training camp and get all their players on the pitch with a proper period of time to prepare for such an important game.
‘Andriy Shevchenko, who I know from my time at Chelsea, spoke quite well about the situation and said they would want to play on the pitch. But the way the situation is, I think they should get as much time as possible to try to make that game happen – Scotland against Ukraine at Hampden.’
Scotland boss Steve Clarke doubts the game against Ukraine will go ahead in June
Football has been suspended in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country a month ago
Clarke’s side face Poland in a home friendly on Thursday evening with £10 from each ticket donated to the humanitarian response in Ukraine.
The Poles had been due to face Russia in a World Cup play-off but stated they would not play the fixture before the Russians were eventually expelled by FIFA.
Clarke hopes the Ukraine play-off will go ahead, primarily because that will mean there has been an improvement in the situation in the country.
‘It’s just a horrible, horrible situation and the quicker we know we’re going to play Ukraine at Hampden the better, because it will mean the war has stopped and we’re all trying to move forward again,’ he said.
‘We hope and pray that the situation improves enough for the fixture to go ahead at some time. But we have to be guided by FIFA, UEFA and, most importantly, by Ukraine themselves.’
UEFA WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF PATH
Wales v Austria – March 24
Scotland v Ukraine (postponed until June due to Russian invasion)
Sweden v Czech Republic
Winner to face Poland (Russia were booted out because of Ukraine war)
Italy v North Macedonia – March 24
Portugal v Turkey – March 24
Italy/North Macedonia v Portugal/Turkey – March 29