London (AFP) – Andrew Robertson on Wednesday urged Scotland to put sentiment aside when they face Ukraine in next week’s World Cup play-off semi-final.
Scotland host war-torn Ukraine next Wednesday in a semi-final rescheduled from March after Russia’s invasion began in February.
Ukraine are certain to earn the support of fans around the world in their first competitive match since the war started.
But Scotland captain Robertson knows his team cannot allow sympathy on a human level to extend into the match itself in Glasgow.
“For us as players and the manager, it’s bizarre with the situation around it,” Robertson told BBC Sport. “We’ve helped Ukraine as much as possible in terms of (agreeing to postpone the game) March, and now June.
“We’ve given them as much (time) as they’ve needed and no question’s been a bad question or anything like that. We’ve helped them as much as we can but come Wednesday night, we have to be ready to battle, to fight for our dreams.
“We got a feeling of being in a major tournament (at last year’s Euro 2020) and we need to try and separate that (emotion of the Ukraine conflict).”
Liverpool left-back Robertson, currently preparing for Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, admits he would be supporting Ukraine himself if they were playing any other nation.
But Scotland cannot be swayed by emotion as they try to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.
“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,” he said.
“We’ll make sure that that’s the message. I can’t imagine what they (Ukraine’s players) are going through, but we have to be ready to battle. As players, we want to go to a World Cup.
“Probably everyone in the world wants Ukraine to win. If it was any other country, I would probably want them to win but unfortunately they’re playing against my country and we have to stand in their way.
“If we do that, it gives us the best possible chance to try and achieve our dream.”
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