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Football: Rabbits won't be fooled again.

SCOTLAND can expect no favours from the Faroes when they go to those wind-swept islands in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, writes DAVID LEGGAT.

For the part-timers, who are the real country cousins of international football, have already been stitched-up by the city slickers.

And that led to them losing to group leaders the Czech Republic minutes from the end of what would have been their best ever result.

Faroes' team coach Allan Simeonsen recalled: "There wasn't long left and we had been holding the Czechs to no goals when one of their players went down injured.

"We kicked the ball out of play. But instead of the Czechs returning possession to us they attacked and scored the winning goal.

"It has all been part of the growing up process for the Faroes' players and over the last five years I have seen a constant and a big improvement."

Former Real Madrid star, European Footballer of the Year and Danish international ace Simeonsen has played his part in making the Faroes hard to beat - and ridding them of their joke tag.

That's something the Czechs learned and the Scots found out too at Pittodrie back in November.

Craig Burley and Billy Dodds netted but when the Faroes scored their first goal of this Euro 2000 campaign Craig Brown's boys were left hanging on nervously.

Simeonsen recalled: "I thought we did well against the Scots just as I thought we were organised and disciplined when we played our home match against the Czechs.

"When we lost our first game in the qualifying section 5-0 in Estonia there was a worry that we would become the team every country scored a lot against.

"But it hadn't worked out like that and even though we were beaten in Bosnia the score was only 1-0.

"We then got a point in a goalless draw away in Lithuania and that looks an even better result for us when you remember it is the same scoreline Scotland got there."

For all of Simeonsen's pride in their improvement the Faroes are still no more than a bunch of butchers and bakers - with a sprinkling of fishermen rather than candlestick makers - who are part-time players.

But they, too, have a target in Group Nine. The Scots know that their realistic aim is to finish second and enter the play-offs, while the Faroes dream of avoiding the bottom berth in the section.

Simeonsen added: "The Faroes have gained a lot of confidence from some of our recent results and we will be trying to make it hard for Scotland.

"I respect them and know they have qualified for both the last European Championships and then the World Cup.

"They will show strength and the typical character of the British game which I admire, so we must concentrate right to the end."

And if any Scot goes down crocked near the end while the outcome is still in the balance, don't expect any Faroes' player to boot the ball into the Atlantic!
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 30, 1999
Words:502
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