Berti Vogts has basked in the warm glow of a World Cup triumph as a player and success in Euro '96 as a coach, but tonight he must endure near-freezing temperatures and watch helplessly from an open stand as his injury-hit Scotland side take on Moldova.
Berti Vogts has basked in the warm glow of a World Cup triumph as a player and success in Euro '96 as a coach, but tonight he must endure near-freezing temperatures and watch helplessly from an open stand as his injury-hit Scotland side take on Moldova. Anything less than victory could find him out in the cold in more ways than one.
Twenty-four hours after the Scottish Football Association's chief executive, David Taylor, had warned of needing to "see where results take us" and then making a "judgement call", Vogts faced his media critics in the former Hotel of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Moldova yesterday. He admitted Scotland had to win, and expected them to do so. If they lose or draw, however, hopes of qualifying for Germany in 2006 would be all but dashed and the likelihood is that he would be purged.
After Vogts' glittering playing career of 96 caps, followed by 102 games in charge of his country, his future employment now appears to hinge on Scotland overcoming the mainly part-time players of the poorest country in Europe. He will not be able to influence events on the heavily sanded pitch as closely as he would like, being banned from the dug-out area for berating the referee during Saturday's loss to Norway. Moreover, several of his most experienced campaigners are absent because of injury.
Moldova stand bottom of Group Five without a point or a goal, yet Vogts cautioned that Scotland's task would be far from easy. "Moldova lost only 1-0 to Italy here, though the Italians played without passion or speed," he said. "They were just looking to score one goal and then it was: 'What time's our flight?' That's not our way. We need to put defenders under pressure. We'll play simple, direct football; play it over the top and look for the second ball."
Such a ploy would suit the abrasiveness and aerial ability of the Rangers striker Steven Thompson, perhaps in tandem with Plymouth's Steve Crawford. Vogts recalled that they played well together when the Scots won in Iceland two years ago. It was before that game that calls for his dismissal were first heard, the result of a fortuitous draw in the Faroe Islands.
Russell Anderson has a swollen ankle and may give way to Stephen Caldwell. Colin Cameron is fit again and could deputise for Barry Ferguson, who is suffering pins and needles in his sore hamstring. Ferguson also has the needle with Craig Burley, who reportedly called Scotland a "laughing stock".
Ferguson, informed of Burley's comments, said: "That sums up the guy. It's very disappointing coming from an ex-player. I'll let the boys know what he said." Unhappily for Vogts, Burley's is scarcely a lone voice.
MOLDOVA (probable 3-5-2): Hmaruc (CSKA Sofia); Lascencov (Nistru), Catinsus (Arsenal Tula), Priganiuc (Sheriff Tiraspol); Olexici (Amkar Perm), Ivanov (FC Moscow), Bursuc (Nistru), Covalciuc (Spartak Moscow), Savinov (Ujgorod); Miterev (Chernomorets Odessa), Rogaciov (Saturn Ramenskoye).
SCOTLAND (probable 4-4-2): Gordon (Hearts); G Caldwell (Hibernian), Webster (Hearts), S Caldwell (Sunderland), Naysmith (Everton); Fletcher (Manchester United), Ferguson (Blackburn) or Cameron (Wolves), Holt (Norwich), Pearson (Celtic); Thompson (Rangers), Crawford (Plymouth).
Referee: K Jakobsson (Iceland).Reuse content