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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Scots have Dutch courage

By Chick Young
BBC Scotland football correspondent

We'll need courage - and plenty of it. Sadly, even if the Tartan Army can, the players can't dabble in the Dutch variety.

They would be entitled to a right good swallow of something 70 proof at the prospect of taking on Holland, a side who fly in the heady heights of of the Fifa rankings, mountainous levels above us.

It's some Euro play-off draw. The future's tight, the future's orange.

They are licking their lips in Amsterdam you know, flooding the canals with tears of joy that they have been bracketed with the mug team of the play-off sides.

I don't know the Dutch word for shootie-in, but apparently it is the most used of their vocabulary since we were pulled out the hat together.

The Dutch celebrate
The Netherlands are confident of victory against Scotland
And they have a point. Would any of our players get into a select team featuring our two nations?

Do we have anyone whose star quality shines like that of Van Nistelrooy or Hasselbaink, Davids or Kluivert?

You can just see Dick Advocaat with that Edam cheesy grin, just purring at the news when he realised he was heading back to the city where he once took home his wages. He was quite good at smug was wee Dick.

And then I read people like former Scotland striker Andy Gray expressing a fear that it doesn't end up an embarassment - 6-0 or 7-0 drubbing. Well, can we just hang on a minute here.

At worst, I would advise Mr Advocaat to fasten his seatbelt. He may be in for a bumpy ride.

Of course I would rather be playing Latvia or Slovenia, but that in itself would be fraught with danger for Scotland.

Because, as sure as night follows day, we would suddenly fancy our chances and adopt the "wha's like us" attitude, a state of mind relegated to the shelf in recent seasons for patently obvious reasons.

Namely that the answer is, "well, the Faroe Islands for a start."

Instead, we face the Dutch in humility, full of respect and in expectancy of suffering a right thrashing. And, given the Scottish psyche, that is no bad thing.

Berti Vogts might not have fully turned the corner, but he has stopped driving us round the bend.

Dick Advocaat with Pierre van Hoojdonk
Dick Advocaat (left) is looking forward to returning to Scotland
The new spirit in the camp and the will to win among the new players will be much more of a problem for Mr Advocaat than I suspects he knows. He may yet right off Scotland at his peril. Like we give a damn.

These will be two fabulous occasions and, at Hampden in front of the born-again Tartan Army, with the national stadium again a sell-out, we really need to win. But a goal may well be enough.

The Amsterdam Arena is not the most intimidating environment in which I have ever watched a match and Celtic fans will recall that it was there that Martin O'Neill produced one of his team's most joyous performances against Ajax.

I'm telling you, this is not beyond our players. A Herculean task will be required, of course, but arrogance - and the Dutch are awash with it - can lead to a fall.

It will be about working hard and believing in ourselves and concentrating, because great players punish you in an instant. But, whisper it, I have a wee feeling that this is going to be very, very close.

Or do I need more water in my Dutch courage?







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