Vogts dismayed at visit of compatriots

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The Independent Online

The new Scotland coach, Berti Vogts, yesterday expressed his disappointment at playing Germany at home first for Euro 2004 qualification. He wanted to take on his former side away first, but admitted there was nothing he could do to prevent the tie taking place at Hampden Park on 7 June, 2003.

Vogts told BBC Radio Scotland: "We would have preferred to play them in Germany first, but they are first in the ranking and tell us what to do. It was the same with England and Germany for the World Cup."

Vogts's sights would have switched immediately to the showdown when the draw was made, having led his home nation to success at Euro 96 in England. And following a meeting with the other Group 5 nations it was discovered that he will come face to face with his former employers in June before returning to Germany for an emotional reunion on 10 September.

Vogts also learned that they would kick-off their campaign with two away trips to the Faroe Islands on 7 September and to Iceland on 12 October, 2002.

Scotland fancy their chances of qualifying in second place behind favourites Germany, but their final game of the campaign against the Lithuanians at Hampden Park in October, 2003, could prove decisive.

SFA chief executive David Taylor was also unhappy with the German draw, but he admitted that the fixtures did have their benefits.

"It was not exactly what we were looking for," he said. "But you have to give and take in these things and we are satisfied with what we got. The most important thing was not to get Germany in our last game, especially away."

Vogts can now start planning for the campaign having been unveiled as the new national coach last week after the Scottish Football Association negotiated his early release with the Kuwait FA.

And the Scottish Premier League have pledged to give Vogts their full support in Scotland's pursuit of Euro 2004 qualification. The SPL would be prepared to cancel fixtures before crucial international matches to help the German prepare his squad while also reintroducing a winter break.

The SPL's chief executive, Roger Mitchell, met Vogts on Friday to discuss the changes and told him he has their full support. "Berti came along to see me when he was in Glasgow," said Mitchell. "We discussed several issues and chatted about the game in general. I found him impressive. He seems to know what's going on here in Scotland and, of course, we will seek to accommodate him in any way we can. We will do everything we can to help the national side's cause. All of us benefit from the feelgood factor whenever Scotland qualify for the finals of a major championship.

"The season would start later, we would restore the winter break and therefore it would end later. We discussed it at an SPL meeting recently. A lot depends on the SFA putting back the date of the Scottish Cup final, but we are up for it."

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