Callum McGregor marks 50th Scotland cap with Man of the Match display

Callum McGregor marks 50th Scotland cap with Man of the Match display

The simple navy blue shirt, released this week as part of the SFA’s 150th anniversary celebrations, draws inspiration from the “uniform” worn by the players who represented this country in the first ever international match against England in 1872.

The classic design proved to be to the liking of Steve Clarke’s men, if not the cash-strapped supporters cheering them on from the stands, as they kicked off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a neat and tidy 3- 0 triumph over Cyprus.

Did Scotland’s brand new goalkeeper cut a streak between the sticks and he made his first appearance?

READ MORE: Scotland 3 Cyprus 0: Immediate response to the burning issues

Angus Gunn, who took over from the injured Craig Gordon in the important position, barely had a patch of grass on his bright yellow top when the final whistle blew. He had almost nothing to do over the course of the 90 minutes.

However, the Norwich City man, who was preferred over both Hearts’ Zander Clark and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly after being persuaded by Clarke to pledge his allegiance to his adopted homeland earlier this year, will see no end to the challenge.

He is likely to be much busier in the Group A game against Spain on Tuesday night. Luis de la Fuente can use Alvaro Morata and Dani Olmo up front. However, the 6ft 5in 27-year-old can go into that tough outing with confidence despite his lack of experience at this level after an assured, if unpredictable, start.

Gunn, the son of former Aberdeen, Norwich and Scotland keeper Bryan, played age-group football for England, where he was born and raised, and previously turned down an invitation to turn out for Scotland after being Alex McLeish was approached because he was keen. playing for Gareth Southgate.

However, Clarke was confident that the Tartan Army would support him if he performed well and he was proven right. New boy Grigoris Kastanos had no trouble keeping out a poor shot in the first half and recovered well after slipping in his penalty as Ioannis Pittas chased down the ball. He was cool under pressure and also his distribution was consistently decent.

His biggest moment undoubtedly came with just five minutes of regulation time remaining when, with Cyprus on the attack and tension palpably growing around the ground, he kept out an awkwardly deflected effort by Andronikos Kakoulli. Substitute Scott McTominay completed the three points two minutes later when he scored the second and his first. But it was an important save.

When Gunn made his first appearance for Scotland, midfielder Callum McGregor made his 50th.

READ MORE: Why Scotland move could pave way for Queen’s Park return to Hampden

Gordon Strachan’s reluctance to move to Oriam outside Edinburgh when the £33m national performance center opened in 2016 was cited this week as the reason he was replaced as Scotland manager.

Who knew? Most people thought that after three failed qualifying campaigns and four-and-a-half years in charge the SFA, along with the vast majority of supporters and media commentators, felt it was time for a change.

Would Strachan have survived if, as he was urged to do by thousands of his compatriots in the final days of his tenure, he had given McGregor some playing time in his final game against Slovenia? The Celtic man was a raw talent at the time and Darren Fletcher and James McArthur probably offered more at the time.

But he has certainly established himself firmly since being handed his debut by caretaker manager Malky Mackay in a friendly against the Netherlands at Pittodrie in 2017. He formed a partnership with Rangers’ Ryan Jack in the middle of the park today and performed with all his usual aggression, energy and intelligence.

It was a strangely subdued and unnecessarily edgy encounter. The hosts missed several opportunities to kill their opponents, especially in the second half. That said, they effectively contained Temuri Ketsbaia’s charges. The man in the middle of the park had a lot to do with it. He was a worthy winner of the Man of the Match award at the end of proceedings.

READ MORE: The story of a historic ’77/78 that marked the end of an era for Rangers

John Carver, the Scotland assistant manager who caused a bit of a stir this week with his critical comments about the state of the pitches at Oriam, praised McGregor as a “coach on the pitch” in the build-up to this Euro 2024 qualifier and said that he hoped to be present when he won his 100th cap.

If he stays away from serious injuries and continues to acquit himself with such poise, it could very well happen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *