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Sir Kenny Dalglish: No place for any sentiment when the game with Ukraine kicks-off

© Robert Perry/EPA-EFE/ShutterstocThe Tartan Army has already shown its support for Ukraine during the friendly with Poland, which raised money for humanitarian aid in the war-ravaged country
The Tartan Army has already shown its support for Ukraine during the friendly with Poland, which raised money for humanitarian aid in the war-ravaged country

Wednesday’s game against Ukraine has been a long time coming, and I’m sure the Scotland players can’t wait for it to kick-off.

Steve Clarke’s squad have played many vital games in the last two years – but this is probably the biggest yet.

Victory will take us one step closer to the World Cup Finals in Qatar in November and December.

The game should have been played in March and, given Scotland’s form in a long unbeaten run, we would have gone into the game then with plenty of confidence.

But, due to the Russian invasion, it has been delayed almost three months.

I have said many times that the unfortunate circumstances in Ukraine means that the whole country has my complete sympathy.

Let’s remember, some of the players and staff may have lost loved ones in this war.

That’s why we can never compare life to football at any time.

My view remains that Ukraine should have been awarded a place in the World Cup Finals.

I think FIFA should have found a way to make that happen.

It would have meant there would have been a bit of restructuring required, but it would not have been insurmountable.

However, we are where we are, and we need to be fully focused.

Every Scottish person will be sympathetic towards Ukraine. That will never change.

But I agree with Andy Robertson’s comments when the Scotland captain said that we will support and unite for Ukraine up until kick-off, and then again at the final whistle.

However, when the game kicks-off, the players will give 100% – and the Tartan Army its full backing – to achieve victory for Scotland.

There will be no room for sentiment or sympathy as this is a massive game.

Hampden is going to be packed to capacity, and the fans must sing their hearts out.

They must treat this game the way they would any other.

The players are going to need the support of the fans more than ever.

We mustn’t lose sight of what is at stake.

This is the semi-final play-off to reach a World Cup. It’s massive.

Ukraine will be giving their all, and they will be desperate for 90 minutes of competitive football.

They would not want us to be taking our foot off the gas, or feeling any sympathy during the 90 minutes.

They would not expect that from us, nor would they thank us for it as they are a proud nation.

Remember, they are a quality footballing side. They were unbeaten against World Champions, France, in the qualifiers.

But we also have some excellent footballers.

Steve has managed to get the very best out of the players, and they have pulled off some incredible results.

We know we have a top quality goalkeeper in Craig Gordon, and there will be times on Wednesday when he is called into action.

I know he will be ready to make important saves. He always does.

John McGinn and Callum McGregor will be vital. They will be looked upon to control the tempo of the game, create chances and get into goalscoring positions.

Ryan Jack and Scott McTominay will also have to be right on it.

Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams have been wonderful in the dark blue jersey. I want them to be at it again on Wednesday.

I think they are superb as a pair, and we’ll see if Steve goes that way with the starting line-up.

Let’s just hope we can win.

It might take extra-time. It might need to go all the way to penalties. Just as long as we do the business.

Wales will be waiting for the winning team. That will be another difficult game, but we’ll look at that in more detail if we emerge successful in midweek.

I wish Steve and the players all the very best. I hope we can do it and I’ve a feeling we will.

But it’s going to take an almighty effort from everyone.