Reuters Soccer Blog

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Time for international minnows to swim in their own pond?


SOCCER-EURO/Most sports fans love an underdog but I suspect many people watching Liechtenstein’s approach against Scotland on Tuesday will have been relieved for the Scots when Stephen McManus popped up to head his side’s winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

In soccer, for a minor team to hold or even beat one of the big boys, there is usually some spoiling involved and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there is a difference between robust tackling and honest battling and some of the things on show at Hampden Park on Tuesday – and all too often before.

At times on Tuesday Liechtenstein’s approach seemed to consist of keeping the ball out of play as much as possible, while making at least two tackles that might be classed somewhere between violent and career-threatening. It was a surprise that they ended the match with 11 men still on the pitch.

Another minnow, Andorra have been known to take a similarly “Sunday League” approach, hacking their way through qualifying campaigns that are usually, in all senses of the word, pointless.