If every Scotland supporter had their way, Steve Clarke’s men would have defeated Israel on Thursday and be preparing to face either Norway or Serbia on Tuesday night.
National legend Archie Gemmill would have had his tartan scarf looked out, and ready to cheer on the players as they faced the most important 90 minutes since 1998.
But that is all on hold just now due to the global pandemic, and we await details from UEFA over when the games will be played for the right to qualify for Euro 2020 in the summer of 2021!
So our exile from one of the game’s major tournaments will extend to at least 23 years.
But Gemmill has been there, seen it and done it. In memorable style.
It was, of course, his stunning goal against Holland in Argentina in 1978 that lit up what was otherwise a quite depressing tournament for all Scots.
That one-two with Kenny Dalglish, mazy dribble and cheeky dink over Dutch keeper, Jan Jongbloed, was voted the Greatest Scotland Goal Of All Time.
Gemmill turned 73 last Tuesday.
He’s always been modest about that goal, and a glittering playing career that returned 43 Scotland caps, three English league titles and a European Cup winner’s medal.
But his fervent hope is that some of the current squad get to taste the chance of being at a Finals.
Gemmill told The Sunday Post: “Like every other Scotland fan, I was looking forward to the game against Israel.
“I thought that we would have won the game and got to the Play-off Final.
“We have some talented players in the squad at the moment, and there appeared to be a lift in performances and confidence in the past couple of games under Steve Clarke.
“That must have been encouraging for everyone.
“But everything is on hold for now and we need to be patient.
“There are more important things going on in the world, and that has to be the main focus.
“Football needs to wait.
“However, when the time comes, I want to see the Scotland players putting on a performance to get us to the Finals.
“I’m sure being there will be the highlight of their careers, and let’s hope it can be the first of many.
“It would also be just reward for the Scotland supporters.
“Remember, managers and players come and go at national team level.
“But the one constant is the Tartan Army.
“They have been through plenty in the past 20 years and it’s time to see them all smiling again.
“That in itself should provide enough motivation – not that any will be needed.”
An outstanding midfielder in his day, a European Cup champion with Nottingham Forest and title winner with both Derby County and Forest under Brian Clough, Gemmill is pleased with the talent in the middle of the park that Clarke has at his disposal.
In the English Premiership alone, Manchester United’s Scott McTominay, John McGinn of Aston Villa, Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour, Sheffield United’s John Fleck and Kenny McLean at Norwich City have all shone for their respective clubs.
In Scotland, meanwhile, Celtic’s Callum McGregor and Ryan Jack of Rangers are also first-class operators in the engine room.
Gemmill said: “Without getting carried away, there are reasons to be optimistic.
“I’ve watched John McGinn closely, and I think he is a super player.
“He has confidence and wonderful energy. I think his energy rubs off on the rest of the team.
“He would probably have been missing for this month following his ankle break, so the interruption has been good from that point of view.
“Scott McTominay has got into the first-team at Old Trafford and he is one of their main players. Again, that can only be good for the national team.
“Billy Gilmour has been a real find and his inclusion at Chelsea has been a real bonus. He does not look out of place.
“He is clearly extremely talented, and has the full support of manager Frank Lampard.
“Let’s hope that within 12 months, he is a regular in every game for club and country.
“I think we all have really high hopes for him, but let’s not rush him.
“If the likes of Billy has more top-team games under his belt by the time the play-offs arrive, then that can be very good for Scotland.
“But it can also work the same way for the other nations, and some of their players will be more experienced and ready for the occasion.
“You then look at others such as John Fleck and Kenny McLean, and they have been playing their part for their respective clubs.
“In Scotland, several players have been playing at a very good level, and helping Rangers and Celtic to successful results in Europe.
“All in all, there is plenty to be positive about.
“Ultimately, though, it’s about producing the right results when it really matters.
“Steve Clarke will feel exactly the same.
“There will be frustration that the games have been postponed because every national team manager wants time with the players, and is itching to play games.
“But Steve is also methodical and will take positives out of the current situation.
“I think he has a very good track record in management, and was definitely the right choice to lead the team.
“I hope he can take Scotland all the way to the level we are all so desperate to reach.
“Steve’s preparation, whenever the time comes, will be first-class, I’m sure.
“The players will know their jobs, and it’s then up to the team he selects to go and win the games.
“It will be about focusing on Israel first, and then seeing what comes after that.
“We all just hope it leads to us being at the Finals in the summer of 2021.
“A game against England at Wembley is a mouthwatering proposition.
“It is one we wouldn’t want to miss out on.”
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