Sign up to Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter sent straight to your inbox for free
Sign up to Miguel’s Delaney’s free weekly newsletter
Thanks for signing up to the
Liam Cooper insisted Scotland are intent on doing themselves justice at Euro 2024 after failing to win a game in their last tilt at the tournament.
The Scots go into their concluding two qualifiers – away to Georgia on Thursday and at home to Norway on Sunday – having already qualified for the finals in Germany next summer.
Steve Clarke’s men suffered group-stage elimination at Euro 2020 – delayed until 2021 due to Covid – after taking just one point from three games against Czech Republic, England and Croatia.
Leeds defender Cooper – speaking from the Scots’ training base in Turkey ahead of Thursday’s match in Tbilisi – feels they will be better equipped this time to make it to the knockout phase.
“As professionals, I think we put that expectation on ourselves immediately after the last Euros,” he said. “I don’t think we did ourselves justice in that tournament.
“It was a lot of lads’ first taste of a major tournament, including myself, and straight after that we agreed among ourselves that we didn’t really do ourselves justice.
“We’ve got a lot of people, including ourselves, to prove to that we belong there and we can get through the group stages.
“We’ve got an honest bunch of lads and we hold ourselves accountable. We want to be satisfied with the way we performed. We’ve done well in this qualification campaign, to qualify with two games to spare is amazing, but it can’t stop there.
“To be even more successful, we’ve got to go and do ourselves justice at the Euros. I’m lucky enough to have been at the last Euros, but if the goalposts don’t change once you’ve had a taste of that and you don’t want to go and improve on it next time, then there’s no point in you being here.”
Cooper admits it is a good feeling to go into the last two matches having already qualified but he is adamant the Scots will not be taking things easy over the next week, with top spot in Group A as well as a place in the squad for the finals at stake.
“It’s nice to have qualified with two games to spare, but there’s also that carrot there that if Spain drop points, we can go and win the group,” said the 32-year-old. “That’s our motivation right now. We’ve got to be professional and take our chance if Spain slip up.
“We’ve only got this camp and the next camp to get ourselves in the manager’s thoughts and get in the squad for Germany so that’s also added motivation. We’ve got to put ourselves forward and prove we should be on that plane to Germany.
“I had a taste of that before and it was an amazing experience albeit in difficult times for the world (due to Covid). There were limited people in the stadium so you didn’t get the full experience.
“It was still an amazing experience but I think the Euros next summer will be unbelievable. It’s something you always dream of as a kid so you’ve got to do all you can by playing well and being successful in these next couple of games and into the March camp as well.”
Excitement is building among the Scotland support and players ahead of the draw for the Euros group stage on December 2.
“We’re obviously buzzing for that,” said Cooper. “We can then get booked and our friends and families can start getting booked up.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare not knowing where we’ll be playing, every person I’ve spoken to has booked about 20 hotels on free cancellation so it will be nice to know where we’re going to be based.
“Once all the logistics of it are sorted out then you can really start to look forward to it. But we’re professionals and we understand there’s a lot of football to be played before then and there’s still a big decision to be made by the manager (regarding squad selection) so there will be no getting too carried away.”
Source: Read Full Article