Football: Depleted Scots win Vogts' vote of confidence

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND have twice beaten reigning world champions - Argentina in 1990 and, famously, England in 1967 - but if they were to add to their tally in tonight's friendly against Germany at Ibrox it would be an extraordinary achievement.

Andy Roxburgh, who lost nine of his original selection at the weekend and was already deprived of his English-based players, yesterday named a team with a total of just 61 full caps. The German side announced earlier by Berti Vogts have 425.

The presence of Lothar Matthaus, who alone has 96, as well as Hassler, Doll, Klinsmann and Riedle, should ensure that the sell-out crowd of 38,000 receive their money's worth. Whether or not the match will have much practical value in terms of Scotland's preparations for the World Cup qualifier in Portugal next month is another matter.

For example, however well the two uncapped players in Roxburgh's starting line-up, Nicky Walker and Stephen Wright, perform against Germany, the national coach is unlikely to prefer them to Andy Goram or Maurice Malpas in Lisbon.

For others already on the fringe there is a genuine incentive. In a midfield the creative onus will fall on John Collins, who has tended to be overshadowed by the McStay- McAllister-McCall axis. Up front, where Scotland have become over-dependent on Ally McCoist, Duncan Ferguson (6ft 4in) and John Robertson (5ft 6in) have a chance to translate what Roxburgh called 'the perfect combination on paper' into goals.

Robertson, who scored in his first two internationals in 1991, had drifted out of favour before the injuries to Gordon Durie and Eoin Jess. He spoke for the spirit of the makeshift team, saying: 'The odds against us are very high, but we often come out on top in that situation.'

Roxburgh, speaking after training at Hampden Park, seemed half-way between relaxed and resigned about his problems. 'We are not dealing with an ideal world, but this group is incredibly enthusiastic,' he said. 'As long as we compete I'll be happy.'

History, at least, offers Scotland some hope. They are unbeaten in four home games against West Germany and the unified team. They also gave Vogts' men a real fright before losing 2-0 in the European Championships last summer.

Incredibly, not one of Roxburgh's team from that afternoon plays tonight, though Vogts has certainly not forgotten them. As a thank you for beating the CIS, which enabled Germany to reach the semi-finals, he has a bottle of champagne for each member of Scotland's squad in Sweden.

At the Germans' Loch Lomond HQ, Vogts expressed sympathy for his opposite number, but added 'I've never seen a weak Scottish team yet.' Roxburgh would drink to that.

SCOTLAND: Walker (Hearts); Wright (Aberdeen), Irvine (Aberdeen), Levein (Hearts, capt), Boyd (Celtic), Bowman (Dundee United), McLaren (Hearts), Collins (Celtic), McInally (Dundee United), Robertson (Hearts), Ferguson (Dundee United).

GERMANY: Kopke (Nuremburg); Thon (Bayern Munich), Buchwald (VfB Stuttgart), Kohler (Juventus), Helmer (Bayern Munich), Hassler (Roma), Zorc (Borussia Dortmund), Matthaus (Bayern Munich, capt), Doll (Lazio), Klinsmann (Monaco), Riedle (Lazio).