Let's Not Get Carried Away: Stark Warning
Scotland Under 21 coach Billy Stark has warned against getting carried away and labelling his side as being great hopes for the future just because they have qualified for the European Championship play-offs. Scotland beat Austria 2-1 at Pittodrie on Tuesday afternoon to go through to next month's two-legged play-offs, where a win would see them qualify for next summer's eight-team tournament in Denmark. Stark said: "We can't get carried away. One thing doesn't make a bad team, one thing doesn't make a good team. They've done well in this qualifying campaign. We might not do well in the play-offs - that's the nature of football - but it won't be through lack of effort or lack of application. I keep preaching a realism and I think that's the sensible thing to do. We have to realise we're no superpower."
Aberdeen striker Chris Maguire scored an 89th-minute winner on his home ground to send Scotland through as Group 10 winners, courtesy of a better head-to-head record than Belarus who ended up on the same points total. The qualification means Scotland are among the top 15 teams in Europe - 14 play-off teams, plus hosts Denmark, who qualify automatically - and Stark hopes his side can give Scotland a boost. But he maintained his young charges, who were today named as one of seven seeds for the draw, must back up their qualifying campaign in the knockout phase next month. He added: "If people see Scotland in the later stages of a competition, that helps to get us respect. We'll have to show in the two-legged play-off that we can back that up a wee bit with our play."
The play-offs are scheduled for between October 9 and 13 in the international break which sees Craig Levein's Scotland senior side take on Czech Republic away (October 8) and Spain at home (October 12). Stark hopes his side can play in front of a capacity crowd on a day when the senior side are not in action. He said: "Those boys deserve an audience."
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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