Sunday, October 27, 2019

Qualification Phase, Part Eight (Scotland 1992 UEFA European

Scotland started the 1992 UEFA Euro qualifiers in the Fall of 1990 following yet another disappointing World Cup, this time in Italy.
Andy Roxburgh, appointed in 1986, was still at the helm for his third qualifiers (1988 Euros, 1990 WC and now 1992 Euros).
While the bulk of his base squad had remained intact, Roxburgh had to contend with a few changes. Main striker and the most reliable avenue for goals, Maurice Johnston had announced his retirement from the National Team (…more on that later). In addition, Jim Leighton had already lost his place at club level at Manchester United. Roxburgh would select Andy Goram to be his starting goalkeeper for these qualifiers.
The qualifying Group appeared balanced with Scotland along with Romania, Bulgaria, Switzerland and with only San Marino (making their International debuts in these Euros) with little hope.

Scotland’s Euro qualifiers started in Glasgow vs. Romania on September 12th, 1990.
Roxburgh would award a number of new caps for this match. Hearts striker John Robertson (not to be confused with the Nottingham Forest player of the previous decade) would earn his debut upfront with McCoist.
Aberdeen’s debutant Brian Irvine started in defense replacing the missing Richard Gough (It would be his sole appearance in the qualifiers).
Romania were in their first full season following the Fall of Communism and now had many of their players in foreign leagues with their star Gheorge Hagi at Real Madrid.
The Romanians took the lead through Camataru in the 13th minute. Despite Scottish appeals for offside the goal stood.
Scotland would claw their way back into the match and in the 37th minute, Robertson would celebrate his debut with a goal.
In the second half, Roxburgh would introduce another new cap, Motherwell’s Tommy Boyd, who replaced Bobby Connor (playing in his last International).
Scotland would get all the points, with McCoist scoring the winner in the 75th minute. It was a narrow win but it set the pace for Scotland in this Group.


Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V Romania 1990


Photo From: World Soccer, October 1990
(September 12, 1990, EC Qualifier, Scotland 2-Romania 1)


The following month on October 17th, 1990, the Scottish hosted Switzerland once more in Glasgow.
The Swiss were an emerging Nation and were a few years from qualifying to the World Cup and Euros. They were managed by former West German and Real Madrid star Uli Stielieke.
Stephen Nicol and David McPherson were drafted in defense replacing Irvine and Malpas (Gough still missing). Stuart McCall was called in midfield, with McStay missing.
Tommy Boyd started for the first time as Connor was out of contention.
Scotland started well and were soon awarded a penalty kick that McCoist missed.
They were awarded a second spot kick in the 34th minute after Andy Egli handled in the box. This time Robertson took charge of the spot kick and gave Scotland the lead.
Scotland doubled the lead early in the second half through McAllister. The Swiss had effectively stopped during the play, expecting the Referee to call for offside and the Swiss and its Manager Stilieke would protest.
Switzerland were awarded a penalty kick of their own when McLeisch elbowed Turkyilmaz in the box. Knup would reduce the deficit and give Switzerland some hope. In fact they had chances near the final quarter of the match and could have tied. Scotland held on to stake a firm claim for the Group.
Murdo McLeod made his last appearance in the qualifiers in this match.

Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V San Marino 1991
(October 17, 1990, EC Qualifier, Scotland 2-Switzerland 1)

Photo From: L'Equipe de Suisse, Authors Guy Balibouse, Roger Felix, Pierre Tripod, 1993
(October 17, 1990, EC Qualifier, Scotland 2-Switzerland 1)


Scotland ended the year on November 14th, 1990 on foreign soil at Bulgaria in Sofia.
Once again Scotland had to contend with injuries and withdrawals (Paul McStay, Alex McLeisch, Robertson, Nicol and McCall).
Malpas would be back in defense along with club mate James McInally.
Liverpool defender Garry Gillespie would be drafted in for the first time in the qualifiers.
Brian McClair would likewise make his debut in the qualifiers.
Scotland defended well and took an early lead through McCoist before Nikolai Todorov tied the match in the second half. Scotland were satisfied with an away point and held on.


Photo From: Official Match Programme, Bulgaria V Scotland 1990



Photo From: World Soccer, January 1991
(November 14, 1990, EC Qualifier, Bulgaria 1-Scotland 1)


Scotland would start the New Year with a Friendly in February vs. USSR (0-1 loss) before hosting Bulgaria at Glasgow on March 27th.
Richard Gough was back for the first time in these qualifiers in defense.
Veteran Gordon Strachan had also earned a recall to the National Team after more than 18 months after excellent displays with newly promoted Leeds United.
Scotland took the lead late in the match when John Collins (also making his debut in the qualifiers) scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.
Bulgaria would tie the match with a minute left to share the spoils.


Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V Bulgaria 1991

Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V Bulgaria 1991
(Scotland’s new kit for the new year)

Photo From: World Soccer, May 1991
(March 27, 1991, EC Qualifier, Scotland 1-Bulgaria 1)


Scotland’s next match on May 1st at San Marino was a formality. However, it took some time for the Scottish to breach the opposition defense in a match played in the rain. The new Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year, Gordon Strachan opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 63rd minute. A few minutes later, his corner set up Gordon Durie for, the second.
Kevin Gallacher made his debut in the qualifiers in this match.


Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V San Marino 1991
(May 1, 1991, EC Qualifier, San Marino 0-Scotland 2)

Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V San Marino 1991
(May 1, 1991, EC Qualifier, San Marino 0-Scotland 2)

Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V Finland 1992
(May 1, 1991, EC Qualifier, San Marino 0-Scotland 2)


The following season (1991/92) started with Switzerland hosting Scotland at Berne on September 11th, 1991.
Maurice Johnstone had ended his retirement from the National Team and played for the first time since the previous year’s World Cup.
He had indicated as early as January 13th, 1991, that he wanted to return but this would be his return match.
The Swiss had overtaken the Group lead in June 1991, having played one more match than Scotland.
A confident Swiss side took control of the match and scored twice in the first half for a seemingly convincing win.
Scotland came back fighting in the second half and as early as the 47th minute reduced the deficit through Durie.
Scotland would push on and in the 83rd minute, McCoist tied the match for Scotland for yet another important away point.

Photo From: World Soccer, October 1991
(September 11, 1991, EC Qualifier, Switzerland 2-Scotland 2)


Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 36, January 1992
(September 11, 1991, EC Qualifier, Switzerland 2-Scotland 2)


Just as it seemed Scotland were to qualify comfortably, they would hit a roadblock by losing for the first time in seven matches at Bucharest vs. Romania. On October 16th, Romania would be victorious (1-0) with a penalty kick to keep the fate of the Group in balance.

Photo From: Official Match Programme, Romania V Scotland 1991


There was one match remaining, and the Swiss, Scotland and Bulgaria were all separated by one point from one another and could all potentially win the Group, with Romania acting as spoilers.
Romania did just that by defeating Switzerland (1-0) on November 13th.
Scotland’s comfortable victory over San Marino (4-0) on the same day gave them the unassailable leadership of the Group.
Scotland qualified for the first time ever to the Finals of the UEFA European Championships.


Photo From: Official Match Programme, Scotland V San Marino 1991

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 45, October 1992
(November 13, 1991, EC Qualifier, Scotland 4-San Marino 0)


Scotland had won a tight Group but had not been impressive and barring their wins over San Marino, all their victories had been tight affairs.
They had been resilient away from home against their key opponents.
These qualifiers served as the end of the line for the likes of Alex McLeisch, Murdo McLeod and even Strachan and Mo Johnstone despite their late recalls.
From the new caps, Thomas Boyd made a lasting impression.
Roxburgh stood by a reliable base and as many as 16 players who took part in the qualifiers made the Finals squad.
This qualification was perhaps the last great achievement of the Scottish National Team, despite still qualifying for the 1996 Euros and the 1998 World Cup.
 It was significant considering this was the era when only eight teams and only qualifying Group winners could participate in the Finals.

References:
L'Equipe de Suisse, Authors Guy Balibouse, Roger Felix, Pierre Tripod, 1993
Official match programme, Scotland V Romania, 1990
Official match programme, Scotland V Bulgaria, 1991
Official match programme, Scotland V San Marino, 1991
Official match programme, Scotland V Finland, 1992
World Soccer, November 1990
World Soccer, December 1990
World Soccer, January 1991
World Soccer, March 1991
World Soccer, May 1991
World Soccer, June 1991
World Soccer, October 1991
World Soccer, November 1991
World Soccer, January 1992
Scotland, the complete international  Football Record, Author Richard Keir  

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