The dust has barely settled on the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar however, the world has moved on. Three months ago following a 3-3 thriller in the Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lionel Messi finally cemented his legacy as the greatest football player that’s ever lived as his Argentina eventually prevailed against reigning champions France on penalties. Now, however, international football is preparing for its next batch of major tournaments. In Europe, that next tournament comes in the form of Euro 2024, which takes place in Germany next summer. Oddschecker, which compares football odds and offers, has made the aforementioned French as well as the hosts the favourites for glory.
Scotland will just be hoping to qualify for the tournament, just as they did for the last European Championships in the summer of 2021. The Tartan Army ended 23 years of hurt when they defeated Serbia on penalties in Belgrade and secured their spot at a first major international tournament since France ‘98. However, their performances at UEFA Euro 2020 left a lot to be desired. The highlight was a point against England, however, defeats against the Czech Republic and Croatia saw Steve Clarke’s side finish bottom of the group and be eliminated. Their qualifying campaign for next year’s European Championships couldn’t have gotten off to a better start though.
Ryan Jack Helps Scotland Get Off To The Perfect Start
Rangers’ central midfield dynamo Ryan Jack started and managed to play for 64 minutes as Scotland’s preparations for Euro 2024 got off to the perfect start. Clarke’s side defeated Cyprus by three goals to nil at Hampden, and Jack put in an impressive display before he was replaced by Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Christie.
Aston Villa’s John McGinn gave the hosts an early lead when he netted in the 21st minute. His side was then frustrated for the rest of the match, with the Tartan Army unable to find a second goal that would kill off the tie. The second goal would eventually come from Manchester United man Scott McTominay in the 87th minute, and he would net a second for himself and Scotland’s third in the third minute of injury time.
Fashion Sakala Plays the Full Ninety as Zambia Pick Up a 2-0 Victory Against Lesotho
It isn’t just European football that is gearing up for more major tournaments. The continent of Africa also has qualifiers underway, with nations from across that part of the world aiming to secure their spot in the Africa Cup of Nations. Despite having a strong squad containing Rangers’ Fashion Sakala and Leicester City striker Patson Daka, Zambia didn’t even qualify for last winter’s tournament. Under former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, they are aiming to put that right this year.
Zambia famously won the Africa Cup of Nations back in 2012 as rank outsiders. They defeated Ghana in the semifinals that year, before stunning Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast on penalties in the final. This year, Zambia are sitting at the top of their qualification group, ahead of the aforementioned Ivorians, and a 2-0 victory away at Lesotho has only strengthened their position. Sakala played the full ninety for his side, even providing an assist for Daka as they picked up the three points, with Daka netting both goals.
Borna Barisic Sits on the Bench as Wales Pick Up an Unlikely Point in Croatia
Rangers left-back Borna Barisic has once again been an assist machine for the ‘Gers this season. He has racked up 11 assists already this term however, that wasn’t enough for him to secure a spot in Croatia’s starting lineup as their new-look side faced off with Wales in Zagreb.
It looked to be an inspired decision by Zlatko Dalić and his new look side looked to be well on course for three points. The hosts dominated a likewise new-look Wales and should have been home and dry when the match entered injury time. However, the hosts paid the price for not finishing the Dragons off, and debutant Nathan Broadhead popped up with a last-gasp equaliser with his side’s first and only shot on target. The Welsh were left celebrating an unlikely point that will stand them in good stead with further qualifiers still to come.