Scotland midfielder and Celtic captain Callum McGregor says Scotland will focus on winning their game against Ukraine in their rescheduled UEFA qualifiers match despite the sympathy they feel for the people of Ukraine.
The match was initially scheduled to take place on March 24 but was postponed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a month earlier. Ukraine have been training outside their country for the past two months after taking some time to collect themselves following the tragedy.
Many have asked Scotland – and Wales, who will face the winner of that tie – to hand Ukraine the ticket as a gesture of good faith. The Ukrainians have vehemently refused the idea stating that they do not need football charity. Both nations have done their bit in war relief efforts, but are looking forward to their clash on the pitch for a ticket to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
McGregor has now spoken about the general feeling in the Scotland camp as they prepare to face Ukraine three months after the original fixture date. McGregor said at a press conference: “Obviously we understand the situation and we have sympathy for it. You turn on the news every day and something else is happening.
“It is a real horrific situation. Ultimately the build-up to the game and most of the talk will probably be around that. But I think it is important as well that we realise we have a job to do. We want to get our country to a major tournament.
“It is a game of football and when both teams cross the line they will be just as motivated as each other to progress and get to the next stage of the play-off. So, we can’t be thinking about anything else now. Our full focus is the game plan.”
McGregor was also asked about the team’s feelings about neutrals stating that they would like Ukraine to go to the World Cup. “That’s fine. Everybody has got their opinion, that doesn’t bother us at all as a group,” he responded.
“We are professional, we have a job to do, as have they. The guys in their camp will be thinking exactly the same, they will be blocking all the noise out from outside and fully focused on their gameplan.”
Meanwhile, the government of the United Kingdom has announced that the country’s armed forces will be deployed to Qatar to keep the fans safe.
The announcement came after the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Al Thani visited UK prime minister Boris Johnson last week. The British Ministry of Defence has stated that the British Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy will be deployed to Qatar for the duration of the tournament which starts on November 21 and ends on December 18.