Emotional Graeme Souness admits he wouldn’t want to play against Ukraine and wants them to BEAT his beloved Scotland in tomorrow’s World Cup play-off – and then win the tournament in Qatar – to ‘send a message to Russia’
- Scotland face Ukraine in a World Cup play-off at Hampden Park on Wednesday
- The fixture was postponed from March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- Graeme Souness admitted he was in a ‘difficult situation’ ahead of the fixture
- The former captain claimed he wanted Ukraine to qualify over his own country
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
Former Scotland captain Graeme Souness has admitted he wants his country to lose their World Cup play-off to Ukraine because he wants to send a message to Russia.
Steve Clarke’s side face Ukraine on Wednesday night at Hampden Park – after the fixture was postponed from March following the Russian invasion – with the winner then taking on Wales on Sunday to decide who earns their place in Qatar.
Souness has put his loyalties aside as he revealed he is backing his country’s opponents in the hope that the war-torn country can go on to lift the World Cup in Qatar.
Graeme Souness (left) admitted he wants Steve Clarke’s (right) Scotland to lose to Ukraine
Scotland are unbeaten in their last eight games but the Liverpool legend questioned whether the players will truly want to win on Wednesday night.
Souness told The Times: ‘When I have thought about this game in my quieter moments, I’ve thought, ‘How would I deal with this?’
‘Part of me keeps coming back to the fact that it’s just a game of football, and do I really want to beat them? Whether it’s sport, politics, the arts, whatever it is, we must send a message to Russia that it’s not acceptable what they are doing.
‘I’m going to find myself in a really difficult situation. I’ll be emotional. I don’t just want Ukraine to qualify, I want them to go there (Qatar) and win it.
‘How far do you have to bury your head in the sand not to realise the situation the world’s in right now? Will it be when someone presses the button on a nuclear weapon?
‘I’d not want to be one of the Scottish players playing that night. I don’t know where my emotions would be. My emotions when I think about it deeply are that it’s more important than football to send a message that Russia’s behaviour is unacceptable.
‘The world has to unite and tell them that — you can hear the emotion in my voice. That’s my over-riding feeling on the situation.
Souness questioned whether Scotland’s players will truly want to win against Ukraine
The Scot claimed he wanted Ukraine to go on and win the World Cup to send Russia a message
The Liverpool legend captained Scotland and claimed he found himself in a ‘difficult situation’
‘I’m doing it (working as a pundit) for television and I’m not sure how I’ll cope with that. I know the majority of our supporters who go there will feel the same — there you are. It’s going to be a really strange night.’
Clarke was asked about fSouness saying that he wanted Ukraine to win and then go on to lift the World Cup.
The Scotland manager said: ‘I can’t put myself into anyone else’s mind, everyone has their opinion on the situation. Every opinion will be different.
‘I focus on myself, I want to go to Qatar with Scotland and the players want to go as well so that is what I will focus on.’
Asked if there was any disappointment that an ex-Scotland skipper would think that way, Clarke replied: ‘No anyone can have their own opinion.’
Just two games lie between Scotland and their first World Cup appearance since 1998 but Clarke faces Ukraine and a potential decider against Wales without star duo Kieran Tierney and Ryan Jack.
The winner of the play-off final will be entered into Group B with England, USA and Iran at the tournament proper in November.