Football: Setback for Scotland as Calderwood goes home

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND'S CAUTIOUS optimism over their prospects of a first-ever appearance in the second phase was tempered last night by news that Colin Calderwood, their first-choice right-sided defender, is out of the World Cup because of injury.

Calderwood suffered a broken bone in the back of one hand and dislocated the other during Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Norway. He flew back to London yesterday and will have immediate surgery but is unlikely to resume training for a month.

The rules of the tournament allow for goalkeepers to be replaced, but not outfield players. Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, described Calderwood's departure as a "set-back" but he has ample cover in Matt Elliott and David Weir.

Scotland will also be without Darren Jackson next week, the Celtic utility player having incurred a suspension for his second booking. Even so, Brown remains satisfied with his team's showing so far, if concerned about the lack of a cutting edge.

The last Scotland forward to score from open play in the finals was Joe Jordan, against the Soviet Union in 1982. "So far we've played well twice but definitely lacked the killer touch," Brown said. "We should have been two up before Norway scored and enjoying a gala day. It's a rarefied atmosphere at the World Cup. Even our clubs only play in Europe - there's no Brazil or Morocco to contend with. But Brazil and Norway are first and seventh in Fifa's World rankings. It's a measure of our progress that we're disappointed to have taken just a point off them."

Having left behind the hurly-Burley of Bordeaux, the Scots re-grouped amid the rustic charms of the Rhone Valley yesterday, still wondering how they failed to beat Norway. Yet their superiority has encouraged the heady belief that 1998 could prove a vintage year in their World Cup history.

So many campaigns have withered on the vine that no one, least of all Brown, is taking for granted the win over Morocco that ought to guarantee their advance. But, amazingly, Craig Burley's equaliser in the Stade Lescure, allied to the mauling of Morocco's goal difference by Brazil, has put them in the position where they could go through with two points.

There is another, even more bizarre scenario, whereby Scotland win at St-Etienne and are still eliminated, although that would require a Norwegian triumph over Brazil. With the world champions keen to avenge a 4-2 defeat in Oslo 13 months ago, such an outcome appears improbable.

Meanwhile, Brown has the luxury of six days in which to formulate his plans for the Moroccans. It will be surprising indeed if he does not start with Burley in central midfield. The Celtic and former Chelsea player, who began at wing-back on Tuesday, switched inside when Jackie McNamara took over his role. Brown deployed Burley centrally against Colombia last month, but has been convinced his principal value to the side lay in the wide position.

The duel between the other wing-back, Christian Dailly, and Henning Berg exemplified a surprising disparity between the teams in Bordeaux. Berg's sluggishness in the face of his Derby counterpart's surges suggested Egil Olsen's side may have peaked in their warm-up games.

Norway arrived in France with Europe's best record over the past 18 months. However, as in the United States four years earlier, they had difficulty in asserting a physically punishing game plan in a competitive environment and in searing heat.

Olsen has some excellent individuals at his disposal; Scotland, among others, would love a striker like Tore Andre Flo, who is tall and skilful like Duncan Ferguson but brings none of the associated problems. But their skills are subjugated to a one-dimensional system based on a route-one game.

Norway, nevertheless, retain an outside chance of going forward. Therein lay one of the anomalies of Bordeaux. Perhaps only the Tartan Army could rejoice in a draw with such gusto. There must have been more than 10,000 Scots in the City. They took delight, against the back-drop of reports about the violence involving England supporters, in demonstrating that consuming the equivalent of the EU lager lake does not preclude mixing fraternally with so-called rival fans.

In the local Sud Ouest newspaper, a story detailing the "singing, drinking and dancing marathon" in which the two sets of supporters indulged took its headline from a comment by a reveller from Edinburgh: "It's not war, it's football." A huge front-page photo of Burley in his moment of glory, grinning toothlessly, underlined the message and the promise of further celebrations for Scotland.