Lessons Learnt

Last updated : 10 April 2007 By Ed_ScottishFitba
"These experiences are so important"
Scotland's Under 20s survived their trip to Canada last month and came away with both countries retaining pride. Two games and honours even, some will wonder why bother at all with going such a long way for effectively practice games. There is some logic behind the apparent madness as SF.net found out when they spoke to U20 National Coach Tommy Wilson about the trip. You will remember that Scotland are due to play in the Under 20s World Cup in June-July this year and will be based in Victoria, British Columbia. Last month's two game trip was part of the preparations for the tournament, not just for the players but also to test the travel and accommodation arrangements. They all have to be ready to make sure the players are in the best possible frame of mind to get through the group stage.

The group games will be played at Swangaard which was the original venue for Scotland's first game in March. However, the game had to be moved to the artificial pitch at Royal Athletic Park as Swangaard was waterlogged. We asked the national coach how much he and co-coach Archie Gemmill learned about the group venue and the players and Wilson said: "
Only a little as we were able to visit the ground and get a feel for it .....Overall the trip was a great success for a million reasons!! We gave 8 players their first cap at this level and all performed well , furthermore they were able to gel as a group, these experiences are so important."

Wilson was pleased that so many ex-pats were right behind the side at both games. However, the SFA and coaches had to deal with the criticism from managers and the like at home regarding the value of a long trip in the middle of a set of key games for players who are regular first team players for their clubs. Wilson understood the managers' position but said: "
I was widely quoted in the Scottish media that the criticism was fair, however what other option did we have if we are serious about the World Cup ?"

So overall the squad and management felt that the trip was useful and laid the foundations for their involvement in the World Cup. There may be a special request from the Scottish camp for the same band which played the national anthems before the second game, at Percy Perry Park, to provide motivation in July. The rendition of Flower of Scotland was barely recognisable and Wilson said: "
I was saying to the staff how much I liked the Canadian anthem until I realised it was ours!! I thought though that we played very well after it so maybe we should use it for motivation!!"

Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)

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