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Austria fans turn against Scotland friendly as Steve Clarke faces near empty stadium prospect in Vienna


Steve Clarke’s men will fly to Austria on Monday insisting the friendly in Vienna means the World to them – even if the game is played in front of one of their gutted hosts’ lowest-ever crowds.

Devastated Austrian fans have turned their back on the fixture after their side crashed out of the World Cup play-offs in Cardiff on Thursday and only 2000 have bought tickets for the clash with the Scots in the 50,000 capacity Ernst Happel Stadium.

The Tartan Army have been allocated 2700 briefs and may even outnumber the home support but irrespective of the size of the crowd and the mindset of the opposition, Scotland midfielder Kenny McLean spoke for Clarke’s squad as he insisted the clash is vital to our own hopes of making Qatar.

The Scots go into the game on a seven game unbeaten streak – six of them wins – and the Norwich City star is adamant that a win is crucial to maintain momentum ahead of the delayed World Cup play-off semi final with Ukraine, which is pencilled in for June.

McLean said: “The lads are producing. We are on a good run now and we have to continue with it.

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“I’d imagine Austria will want to win in front of their own fans after being so disappointed against Wales.

“I guess it will be tough for them to pick themselves up, but they have another chance to go and represent their country and if we were in that position, we would want to come back and put in a performance and get a result. I’m sure they are no different.

“It’ll be a hard game. No matter who plays, they’ll be a good team, so we’ll go there and try to win the game to keep this momentum going.”

The 30-year-old, hoping to win his 26th cap tomorrow, reckons the unity in Clarke’s squad is absolutely crucial and insists they can’t wait to try to extend their unbeaten run in the Austrian capital.

“When we meet up with Scotland, everybody talks about the club-like togetherness we’ve got in the camp and it’s true,” he said. “Everybody is tight and it’s a great group of lads. I think that has played a huge part in taking us to where we are just now.

“Obviously, we have got loads of quality and absolutely top players but you need that togetherness and the group that we’ve got is brilliant just now.”

While the harmony in the Scots’ camp is obvious, the Austrians are in disarray.

Boss Franco Foda cancelled a television appearance at the weekend to answer questions in the wake of their defeat in Cardiff, claiming it was to concentrate on preparations for the Scotland game but the friendly is a massive turn off for the Austrian public.

Their lowest crowd is 1,800 but that was because of covid and social-distancing when they played Moldova last year.

The previous low was 7,000 punters for a Euro 1990 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland.





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