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Tartan Army detect Dutch uncertainty

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Dutch extend welcome to Tartan Army

By Clive Lindsay
BBC Scotland in Amsterdam

The Tartan Army have found some grounds for optimism among their Dutch counterparts ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier.

Scotland's travelling support fear the worst following a number of injuries suffered by the team ahead of the match in Amsterdam.

But, as Michael Smart from Aberdeen told BBC Scotland: "We were talking to the boys here in the hotel and they are not confident about the Dutch side.

"They say they are not gelling as a team and they feel that whatever side gets a wee break will win the game."

Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg
Maarten Stekelenburg is expected to feature in goal against Scotland

Fellow member of the Cloverleaf Tartan Army George Hislop said the Netherlands support highlighted Maarten Stekelenburg as the possible weak link.

The goalkeeper has lost his first-team place at Ajax but is likely to start against Scotland after Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar rejected overtures to once more come out of international retirement.

"The Dutch are not happy with the goalkeeper," said Hislop. "They aren't any more confident than we are."

Hislop, who has not missed a Scotland game for three qualification campaigns, was among those who suffered first-hand the hammering inflicted in the 2003 play-off second leg in Amsterdam.

"We won 1-0 at Hampden and thought we were through," he recalled. "But we are in better shape now and it won't be 6-0 this time.

"It was a bad experience under Berti Vogts, but you have to say that a lot of the guys out there, the likes of Darren Fletcher, would not have emerged if it had not been for Berti and all those silly friendlies."

Oil services worker Vernon Hay has once again flown all the way from Nigeria to follow Scotland but does not expect them to strike gold in the Amsterdam ArenA on the latest leg of what he describes as "an expensive hobby".

One thing is for sure, we will have a party

Scotland fan Kevin Lawson

"I don't expect a repeat of Paris," said the Aberdonian who was among those who witnessed a famous 1-0 victory over France during the Euro 2008 qualification campaign.

"We have a lot of injuries, so we have to hope that the Dutch are really poor on the night. I would be chuffed with a point."

Leona Hay was not so hopeful. "We are going to get gubbed," she predicted.

"So many players are dropping out every day, I will be getting a game."

Scotland fan in the Netherlands
Scotland fans were left devastated on their last visit to Amsterdam

On Wednesday evening, a lone piper could be heard at Amsterdam's Central Station greeting the early arrivals as an expected 15,000 members of the Tartan Army make their way to a dreich Dutch capital.

By Thursday afternoon, pubs were already being informally decorated with Saltires and more and more Scottish colours were mingling with the shoppers down Nieuwenduk.

The evening would bring a few more kilted salutes in the direction of more red-lighted shop windows.

But the Tartan Army have so far been pleased with the more relaxed attitude adopted by the Dutch police compared to some, most notably the Italians, during the last campaign.

And, mirroring the words of Frank Gallagher of TV's Shameless, Kevin Lawson pointed out that, no matter Saturday's result: "One thing is for sure, we will have a party."



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see also
Pick your Scotland XI
10 Nov 05 |  Internationals
McManus ruled out of Dutch clash
26 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Midfield battle is key - Fletcher
26 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Scots need Dutch courage
25 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Advocaat plays down Scots chances
24 Mar 09 |  Internationals
I am ready to face Dutch - Hutton
23 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Burley issues warning to Gordon
03 Mar 09 |  Internationals


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