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CLARKE NAMES SCOTS TARGET

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STEVE CLARKE has been named Alex McLeish successor as Scotland manager, as Scotzine reported last week.

The 55-year-old ex-international defender has quit Kilmarnock after almost two years in charge to accept the challenge of leading his nation.

And Clarke admitted he wants to emulate the success of the Scotland women’s team after accepting a three-year deal with the SFA.

McLeish was fired after 14 months and 12 games as Scots gaffer after losing seven games and winning five. The team sit fifth in their Euro 2020 qualifying group after two matches – a 5-0 loss in Kazakhstan and a 2-0 victory in San Marino – games while Shelley Kerr’s side are set for next month’s Women’s World Cup.

Clarke, speaking to the BBC, said: “It is an honour.

“I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.

“I appreciate the Scotland supporters have waited a long time for the national team to qualify for a major tournament. Now we have a Women’s World Cup to look forward to in France this summer and it’s my motivation to emulate the success of Shelley Kerr and her squad by leading us to Euro 2020.

“I believe we can qualify and look forward to that journey with the players and the fans, starting against Cyprus and Belgium next month.”

Clarke, given a two-match ban by the SFA on Thursday for criticising referee Steven McLean, starts with a European qualifier against Cyprus at Hampden on June 8 and then a trip to Brussels to take on Group I leaders Belgium three days later.

Capped six times, the former West Brom and Reading manager had a year to go on his Rugby Park contract.

Arriving in October 2017, Clarke steered Killie from second bottom of the Premiership to fifth place with a record points tally.

The Ayrshire side surpassed that total this year on their way to third in the top flight – their highest position since 1966. He was this season’s PFA Scotland and Scottish Football Writers’ Association manager of the year.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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