Play-off call

Dalglish says Ukraine should get World Cup place in 2026

Kenny Dalglish
Kenny Dalglish: Scotland should get bye (SNS Group)

Former Scotland international Kenny Dalglish says Ukraine should be withdrawn from this year’s World Cup competition and given automatic entry to the finals in 2026.

Dalglish says its unfair to put pressure on the war-torn country to take part in a playoff semi-final against Scotland at Hampden.

Uefa and Fifa are likely to confirm this week that the game, which had been scheduled for 24 March, will be played in June despite no sign of an end to the conflict with Russia that has decimated parts of Ukraine and left thousands dead.

Scotland’s most-capped player suggests that Ukraine should be given a special qualification to the next finals and that Scotland contest the play-off final against Wales.

“I think it is unfair to put [Ukraine] under pressure in any way, shape or form,” said Dalglish. “And maybe a wee olive branch would be to say ‘the next World Cup you can go straight through, you don’t need to qualify’. That would be a way of showing your respect for them and at the same time moving forward with this World Cup coming up in Qatar.

There are currently plans for Scotland and Ukraine to play their semi-final on either 31 May or 1 June.

In June Scotland are already due to play Ukraine, Armenia twice, and Republic of Ireland in the Nations League.

One other concern is that rhe Champions League final takes place on 28 May which could involve the Liverpool defender, Andy Robertson, who is Scotland’s captain.

Ian Maxwell, chief executive of the Scottish FA, is in Switzerland this week to discuss the matter with Uefa.

The World Cup finals will kick off in Qatar on 21 November.

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