In Europe's qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Group A looks to be wide open, and it may not hurt for a team to be flying in under the radar. With no traditional "super power" in Group A, the attention has been focused on Croatia, who didn't qualify for the 2010 Cup in South Africa but have now risen to No. 8 in FIFA's World Rankings.
But is there room for a surprise in this group? Serbia has only won two of their last ten contests, despite maintaining a No. 37 FIFA World Ranking. Belgium is another dark horse in the group and have improved their overall profile of recent years, but they still lack the quality win that puts them into an elite category.
The Scots have not fielded a team for the World Cup Finals since France in 1998. But their passionate fan base is starving for victory, and many sense that with the quality of Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher, and Scotland's mass of young rising stars like Danny Wilson, Tartan's Army could be celebrating in the streets come fall of 2013.
Scotland skipper Craig Levein feels good about his team's chances, and why not? Scotland is 4-1-1 in their past six matches, with their lone loss against Spain in Madrid.
“Football throws up results where the underdogs come out on top," Levein said of Group A. "I look at this group and there are loads of situations where we can pick up points. If things aren’t going well there are loads of banana skins as well. We’re in the middle and have to play above ourselves.”
Scotland have a friendly contest coming up on the 29th of February against Slovenia. Levein will use this game to measure how prepared his squad is for the European WCQ, which begins the 8th of September against the aforementioned Croatia team.
With a good result there, Scotland could be on their way to qualifying for the Cup again.