After watching Scotland defeat Denmark 2-0 last Monday evening, I’ve not been able to stop smiling.
It was an unbelievable performance from the players. To a man, they were fantastic.
Knowing a victory would guarantee a home tie in the play-offs, they took the game to the Danes and got them on the back foot.
That wasn’t an easy thing to do as Denmark had won all nine of their qualifying ties and wanted to maintain their 100% record.
But they came up against a tornado-like Scotland team. Denmark just didn’t know what had hit them.
They were swept away.
The draw for the semis is later this week and we will face one of North Macedonia, Turkey, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic or Ukraine.
I’m happy to take who we are given. I don’t think any of those countries will fancy coming to play in front of 50,000 Scots.
Of course, I’m not underestimating any of those nations. They are all talented and you see the likes of Robert Lewandowski playing for Poland, and he is one of the finest strikers in the world.
But my genuine belief is that we should not be fearful of any side.
I have always said that Steve Clarke is a top-class manager and every Scot should have faith in him.
He took us to the Euros last summer and is now not too far off taking us to a World Cup Finals for the first time in 24 years.
He knows football inside out and you can see in the style of play away to Moldova last week and at home to the Danes, there has been lots of tactical work put in on the training field.
Performances such as that do not happen by accident.
When you see every player performing to such a high level, it fills me with optimism.
Craig Gordon was exceptional in goal. Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney were sensational. Callum McGregor and Billy Gilmur were outstanding and are forming a proper partnership.
John McGinn and Che Adams are just getting better and better. The way Che took his goal was just delightful. What a finish to beat Kasper Schmeichel in that manner, it was wonderful composure.
If we are successful we will be just one game away from a place in Qatar next year.
We just need to see what kind of form the lads are in four months from now when the games are played. That’s the only downside, I suppose.
I wish the games were being played this week because we have momentum after six wins on the bounce and we are all full of confidence.
But we still have lots of hard work ahead and the Tartan Army will want to see us finish off what we have started.
In the words of Oliver Twist: “I want some more”.
As long as we all stick together then there is a much better chance of being successful.
The atmosphere inside Hampden during this qualification campaign has been electric, as good as it’s been for more than a decade.
When the Scotland fans see young talent coming through the ranks, such as Gilmour and Nathan Patterson, they get excited about the future, rightly so.
On Nathan, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for him under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
The new Rangers manager will be at Hampden Park today for the League Cup semi-final against Hibs, although he won’t be in the technical area.
He doesn’t officially start until later this week and Nathan has the potential and ability to be a regular in the first team.
It will be interesting to see how Giovanni deals with the player and obviously having the skipper, James Tavernier, as a very capable right-back.
Overall, the Dutchman’s appointment looks to be the right one as the supporters can relate to him and he knows the club.
But only time will tell and we will have a clearer picture on all of it come May.
The League, as always, will be the priority and Rangers have a four-point gap at the top just now. Steven Gerrard left the club in a good place.
But Giovanni will be well aware that Celtic are coming up the rails very quickly and may well take some stopping.
That’s why we have a fascinating SPFL title race on our hands.
Sit back and enjoy!
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