Scotland v Ukraine: World Cup play-off semi-final should be a game to make both nations proud – Angus Robertson MSP

Of all the football teams in the world that Scotland has to defeat this week, it is the one team that all neutral fans want to succeed: Ukraine.

Both teams face one another in a key, delayed World Cup play-off semi-final at Hamden stadium, with the winner taking on Wales in the play-off final and the victorious side booking a place in Qatar. The original match was postponed because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s footballers will need no motivation in playing for their nation, as they show the world that they are no pushovers. Meanwhile, Scotland’s players have been encouraged to separate their sympathy for Ukraine from the World Cup dream.

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National captain Andy Robertson said: "We'll be so receptive of Ukraine before and after the game but during that 90 minutes, that 120 minutes, or whatever it takes, we have to be ready to fight for our dreams as well.

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"We'll make sure that that's the message. I can't imagine what they are going through, but we have to be ready to battle. As players, we want to go to a World Cup.”

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Ahead of the match, I will be joining Ukrainian diplomats at Scotland House in Brussels. They have been invited to join the Scottish Government staff there in solidarity for the situation in Ukraine.

I’d love to see Ukraine do well, but I still want Scotland to win and progress to the play-off finals. Hopefully it will be a memorable match that can make both Scotland and Ukraine proud.

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A young Scotland fan waves a Ukrainian flag during a friendly match against Poland at Hampden Park in March (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary