Brown hopes to escape touchline ban

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Craig Brown will learn next week whether his "sending-off" during Scotland's battling 1-1 draw with Croatia will earn a touchline ban when the Group Six leaders resume a World Cup qualifying campaign that has so far been everything England's has not.

Craig Brown will learn next week whether his "sending-off" during Scotland's battling 1-1 draw with Croatia will earn a touchline ban when the Group Six leaders resume a World Cup qualifying campaign that has so far been everything England's has not.

The Scotland manager was ordered from the dug-out with a third of Wednesday's match in Zagreb remaining. His offence was to complain - with a gesture of annoyance rather than abusive language, he later insisted - about a decision which went against Manchester City's Paul Dickov.

Brown's fate will be decided when Fifa, the world game's ruling body, convenes a three-man disciplinary panel on Monday or Tuesday to review the red-card cases from this week's fixtures. They will first examine the report bya pedantic and strangelyirritable French referee, GillesVeissiÿre.

"A ban is possible," warned a Fifa spokesperson yesterday. "It has happened to coaches in the past." Brown, however, is hopeful that the report of the referee's assessor at the game will help his cause. Monsieur Veissiÿre angered both benches with a series of mystifying decisions.

Brown also accused Veissiÿre of being less than even-handed. During the first half the official ran to the Scotland bench and bellowed "Shut up!" twice at Brown and his assistant, Archie Knox. The frequent protestations of Miroslav Blazevic went curiously unpunished.

"It was a wee bit rude to shout that," said Brown. He went on to allege that the fourth official appeared to have been stationed by the Scottish dug-out - while ignoring the Croatian one - with the aim of catching Brown or Knox straying out of the technical area. "I think he went in at half-time and said: 'If either of them step out, do them'."

The sight of Brown shuffling across the running track to the stand like an errant schoolboy was richly ironic; there is probably no more polite, reasonable or articulate manager in football. Even if he is banished to a loftier perch, the likelihood is that he will derive something positive from the experience, as Aston Villa's John Gregory did last season.

Scotland's resilient display, in which they fell behind to Alen Boksic but levelled swiftly through Kevin Gallacher, drew magnanimous praise from Blazevic and Davor Suker. The West Ham striker, unfit to play, made a pointof going into the visitors' dressing-room to shake hands with the outstanding Colin Hendry.

A haul of seven points from three games is all the more impressive for the fact that in Croatia, as in San Marino, the Scots were severely under-strength. The form of some of the understudies, particularly the dynamic Hearts midfielder Colin Cameron, could give Brown a selection dilemma once some of his first-choices are fit.

Scotland have also still to play at home. Following friendlies against Australia in Glasgow next month and Poland away in February, the anomaly will be remedied in March. Belgium and San Marino both visit within the space of five days - a shrewd piece of scheduling which gives them the opportunity to build a daunting lead at the top.

Comments