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Page last updated at 20:46 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 21:46 UK

Results could ease Scots' passage

Scotland v Netherlands, World Cup qualifier
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Wednesday, 9 September KO: 1930 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, with highlights on BBC One Scotland from 2245 BST. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website

By Richard Gordon and Liam McLeod

Click here for World Cup tables and qualifying permutations

George Burley takes Scotland training on Monday
Burley's side could move swiftly into the play-offs on Wednesday

Scotland could yet confirm their place in the play-offs for the World Cup finals on Wednesday should they beat the Netherlands.

If results elsewhere go their way, George Burley's side might avoid a nervous, month-long wait for the other eight European qualification groups to be decided.

Of course, for the Scots to clinch a coveted play-off spot, it's highly likely they will first need to overcome the odds and beat the Dutch at Hampden.

The worst-placed of the nine group runners-up will miss out on the South Africa 2010 shoot-out in November and Scotland and their rivals for the runners-up spot in Group Nine are in danger of doing just that.

However, Group Three - and to a lesser extent Group Five - provide the Scots with most hope.

Slovakia lead Group Three and are currently two points clear of Northern Ireland ahead of their visit to Belfast on Wednesday.

Once results against bottom side San Marino are discounted, Scotland currently sit two points ahead of Nigel Worthington's men and one clear of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who sit second in Group Five.

However, the Scots have just one more game remaining.

Ideal results on Wednesday, assuming Scotland pick up the three points, would be a Slovakian win and draw in the other match between Slovenia and Poland.


If that was to happen, Burley's men would be sitting on 13 points while no team in Group Three would be able to finish second on more than 12 points.

The Scots, who reignited their campaign with a 2-0 win over Macedonia at Hampden on Saturday, would then make the play-offs this week.

If there are any other permutations, they would have to wait until qualification draws to a close across the other eight groups in October.

A draw or defeat and the set of results required in the other groups vary from highly unlikely to miraculous.

Unfortunately, the hardest part of that sequence is likely to be the one at Hampden, with the Netherlands sitting third in the world rankings and one of the favourites to win the tournament in July.

They also eased the Scots aside 3-0 at the end of March in Amsterdam but go into their final game having already qualified.

The Dutch are looking to finish the group with a 100% record but have a poor record in final group games, having lost their last match in the last three campaigns after having already qualified.

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see also
Burley is defiant despite defeat
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Scotland 0-1 Netherlands
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Burley praises players and fans
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Scots World Cup dream still alive
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Scotland 2-0 Macedonia
05 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Scotland v Macedonia in pictures
05 Sep 09 |  Scotland
Pick your Scotland XI
10 Nov 05 |  Internationals

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