SFA embraces road to World Cup 2010

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The Independent Online

In a marked departure from the routine they followed in their stirring but ultimately disappointing Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, Scotland will begin their 2010 World Cup qualifiers with two potentially tricky games on the road and play only two games at Hampden Park on Saturday afternoons.

In Euro 2008, they began with a 6-0 romp at home over the Faroe Islands and played all six home games on Saturdays five of them wins in front of packed houses. For 2010, their first two games, on 6 and 10 September next year, will be in Macedonia and Iceland. They will host Norway in October and then travel in March 2009 to the top seeds, the Netherlands, whom they will also face in their final game, at home on a Wednesday evening that September.

The Scottish FA's president, George Peat, said the arrangements give Scotland "the best chance possible of securing qualification". Scotland have avoided playing any games during the close season in June 2009, and face a minor inconvenience of playing their final three games against Norway, Macedonia and the Dutch in the space of 22 days at the start of the 2009-10 season. "We are satisfied with the final outcome," Peat said.

The SFA's chief executive, Gordon Smith, revealed yesterday he has "at least six or seven" candidates in mind to replace Alex McLeish as the national manager. Motherwell's Mark McGhee, Hibs' John Collins, Dundee United's Craig Levein and the unemployed Graeme Souness and Billy Davies are all being considered but no appointment is expected until the new year.

Scotland's 2010 World Cup qualifying fixtures: 6 Sep 2008 v Macedonia (a); 10 Sep v Iceland (a); 11 Oct v Norway (h); 28 Mar 2009 v Netherlands (a); 1 Apr v Iceland (h); 19 August v Norway (a); 5 Sep v Macedonia (h); 9 Sep v Netherlands (h).

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