Football: World Cup: Brown looking to make history

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NO SCOTTISH World Cup campaign would be complete without a scandal over players burning the candle at both ends. The difference this time is that the story concerns two of the Norway players likely to face Scotland in Bordeaux tomorrow in what Craig Brown describes as the most important game of his 40 years in football.

For the Scots, reports that Henning Berg and Erik Mykland were in a nightclub until dawn inevitably stirred memories of Jimmy Johnstone's antics before the 1974 finals and the controversy over a night on the town allegedly led by Mo Johnston 16 years later. Brown though was wary of reading too much into the episode.

"I've heard about the trouble in the Norwegian camp," the Scotland manager said. "But sometimes that can have a bad effect on a squad and on other occasions it can help to bond them together.

"We've got to ignore it, because we're not interested in what's happening in other camps. The main thing is that everyone here is fit. The players are straining at the leash."

Brown knows that a second defeat would guarantee Scotland's exit. Intriguingly, Norway are in the same position - assuming that they do not take anything from their last group match, against Brazil.

"This is the World Cup for us for real. It's the most important game of my career, one that can help us to make history and help us qualify. We could just do with a bit of luck because we've been very unlucky three times not to go through."

Brazil, 2-1 winners against Scotland, are the best team Brown has seen. Even so, he admitted that his team were "ashamed" of their defending for the holders' first goal and said there has also been "recriminations" about the second.

Tom Boyd, who unwittingly scored it, nominated Brazil, the Netherlands and France as the sides who had impressed him. Being in the crowd for the hosts' match with South Africa at Marseille was "a great experience," the Celtic captain said, although he was disappointed by the atmosphere at the opening match.

"I accept that the home team have to have tickets but it would have been better if Scotland and Brazil had got 20,000 each," Boyd added. "The better the atmosphere, the better you play. Bordeaux is a smaller ground than the Stade de France and should be more to our liking."