Football: Brown keeps the Faroes guessing

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The Independent Online
CRAIG BROWN, the Scotland manager, put tonight's meeting with one of the Group Eight makeweights at Hampden Park into perspective yesterday when he noted that the population of the Faroe Islands, around 45,000, is similar to that of Kilmarnock.

'We'd be struggling if we had to pick from somewhere that size,' Brown admitted. In the light of this comparison and the need to stimulate ticket sales, you might think that the promise of a goal glut would follow logically. Brown, however, does not resort to bravado as readily as some of his predecessors.

Confident as he is of success against a side who have failed to win for four years, he was also anxious not to give the Faroes' manager, Allan Simonsen, ammunition for his team talk. This extended to refusing to offer the merest hint about his line-up or tactics.

What others may construe as caution bordering on paranoia appears the professional approach to Brown, even against a largely amateur team whose captain, Ade Hansen, has failed to secure time off from his job in a fish processing plant. If Scottish debacles against Costa Rica and Iran were in the back of his mind, the names of Trelleborgs and Mansfield occupied the forefront.

'If every player performs to his capabilities, we'll win comfortably,' Brown said. 'But it only needs a bit of slackness and we're in the situation Blackburn and Leeds found themselves in. Colin Hendry tells me Kenny Dalglish warned them repeatedly about the dangers of complacency, yet they still got it wrong.'

Brown's other task has been to strike a balance between rewarding the players who won 2-0 in Finland last month and the need to accentuate the positive. Gary McAllister and Duncan Shearer are injured, and a desire to exploit Hampden's widths and to acknowledge current form may see their places go to Pat Nevin and Scott Booth respectively.

Booth is likely to be partnered by John McGinlay, which would relegate Celic's Andy Walker to the bench. Brown envisaged Walker joining the fray, though Scotland must avoid overcrowding the final third as they did in the 4-0 defeat of San Marino in the last European Championship qualifying series.

Much depends on how good - or bad - the Faroes are. Having had them watched and studied the videos, Brown did concede that they were 'one of the weaker nations' - the Faroese stand 128th and the Scots 31st in Fifa's world rankings. He had also seen HB Torshavn limit Motherwell to 3-0 in the Uefa Cup, and only one of their players made Simonsen's squad.

This week, Brown declined tickets for his players for the satirical football revue Only An Excuse?, claiming it might look as if they were treating the Kilmarnock of the North Atlantic lightly. Once the curtain comes up this evening, Hampden will expect excesses rather than excuses.

'We'd be struggling if we had to pick from somewhere that size,' Brown admitted. In the light of this comparison and the need to stimulate ticket sales, you might think that the promise of a goal glut would follow logically. Brown, however, does not resort to bravado as readily as some of his predecessors.

Confident as he is of success against a side who have failed to win for four years, he was also anxious not to give the Faroes' manager, Allan Simonsen, ammunition for his team talk. This extended to refusing to offer the merest hint about his line-up or tactics.

What others may construe as caution bordering on paranoia appears the professional approach to Brown, even against a largely amateur team whose captain, Ade Hansen, has failed to secure time off from his job in a fish processing plant. If Scottish debacles against Costa Rica and Iran were in the back of his mind, the names of Trelleborgs and Mansfield occupied the forefront.

'If every player performs to his capabilities, we'll win comfortably,' Brown said. 'But it only needs a bit of slackness and we're in the situation Blackburn and Leeds found themselves in. Colin Hendry tells me Kenny Dalglish warned them repeatedly about the dangers of complacency, yet they still got it wrong.'

Brown's other task has been to strike a balance between rewarding the players who won 2-0 in Finland last month and the need to accentuate the positive. Gary McAllister and Duncan Shearer are injured, and a desire to exploit Hampden's widths and to acknowledge current form may see their places go to Pat Nevin and Scott Booth respectively.

Booth is likely to be partnered by John McGinlay, which would relegate Celic's Andy Walker to the bench. Brown envisaged Walker joining the fray, though Scotland must avoid overcrowding the final third as they did in the 4-0 defeat of San Marino in the last European Championship qualifying series.

Much depends on how good - or bad - the Faroes are. Having had them watched and studied the videos, Brown did concede that they were 'one of the weaker nations' - the Faroese stand 128th and the Scots 31st in Fifa's world rankings. He had also seen HB Torshavn limit Motherwell to 3-0 in the Uefa Cup, and only one of their players made Simonsen's squad.

This week, Brown declined tickets for his players for the satirical football revue Only An Excuse?, claiming it might look as if they were treating the Kilmarnock of the North Atlantic lightly. Once the curtain comes up this evening, Hampden will expect excesses rather than excuses.

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