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New Scots boss to face homeland in Euro qualifier

NEW Scotland boss Berti Vogts will face his homeland, Germany, as the Euro 2004 draw in Oporto threw up an incredible twist of fate today.

Vogts, currently coach of the Kuwait national team, is expected to be named as Craig Brown’s successor when the oil-rich nation’s interest in the Gulf Cup comes to an end.

Capped 96 times by his country, Vogts was coach when he led Germany to victory in Euro ’96 in England, beating the hosts on penalties in the semi-finals and then taking the title after a 2-1 golden goal defeat of the Czech Republic.

While Germany will be clear favourites to qualify from Group Five, Scotland were presented with an outstanding chance of at least taking a play-off place as the draw pitched us in against familiar opponents, the Faroe Islands and Lithuania and Iceland.

However, Vogts will tread warily, knowing that both the Faroes and Lithuania were in Scotland’s qualifying group for Euro 2000, only for disappointing draws in both of those countries proving fatal as Craig Brown’s squad failed to make the finals in Belgium and Holland.

Vogts, who resigned as German coach in 1998 after a 3-0 defeat by Croatia at France ’98, will no doubt believe that his new charges can overcome his old charges, taking heart from the fact that the last match between the countries, albeit a friendly, was won by Scotland thanks to a goal from Don Hutchison in Bremen.

The 56-year-old has mixed memories of the Euro-pean Championships as a player, helping West Germany win the title in Belgium in 1972 with a 3-0 win over the USSR in Brussels, only to lose it four years later in a 5-3 penalty shoot-out defeat by Czechoslovakia.

While the Faroes and Lithuania have become familiar journeys for Scotland in recent years, we haven’t faced Iceland since 1985 when a goal from Jim Bett in a controversial 1-0 win in Reykjavik kept Jock Stein’s squad on course for the World Cup finals in Mexico.

The first game between the countries at Hampden ended in a 3-0 win for the Scots, two of the goals coming from Paul McStay and the other from Charlie Nicholas.

England, too, will be content with the draw, Sven Goran Eriksson’s side pitched against top seeds Turkey, Slovakia, Macedonia and Liechtenstein in Group Seven. However, the Republic of Ireland, top seeds in Group 10, face a potentially tricky qualifying section which includes Russia, Switzerland, Georgia and Albania.

And Northern Ireland and Wales face almost impossible tasks once again to qualify, the Irish in Group Six which contains Spain, the Ukraine, Greece and Armenia while the Welsh are up against it in Group 9 which features, Italy, Yugoslavia, Finland and Azerbaijan.

The winners from each of the ten groups will automatically qualify for the finals - along with the host nation, Portugal - which will take place between June 12 and July 2, 2004.

The runners-up from each group will play-off in November next year following the qualifying campaign which begins this September and will run through to October 2003.

Taken from the Scotsman

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