Former Scotland defender Tom Boyd fears grabbing second place in Group 9 will still not be enough for George Burley's side to reach a play-off spot for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

The Scots, with only seven points from six games, have to beat FYR Macedonia and Netherlands in their final two home games on Saturday and Wednesday respectively, to have any chance of reaching South Africa. However, only the first eight of the nine section runners-up will be involved in the November play-offs, and if Scotland do get all six points they would have to wait until the last round of qualifiers in October to discover their fate.

Asked about the possibility of Scotland winning the forthcoming double-header but still not making a play-off spot, a rueful Boyd, who played 72 times for Scotland, said: "That kind of scenario would be a typical Scottish thing.

"It's close at the moment and if we win both games then we will get second place. But looking at the other groups, it could be that hard luck story so we just have to hope that we can get into the play-off place. You could say that we were so unlucky not to qualify in the last campaign.

"Looking at this group you could say that we should have finished second quite comfortably but it hasn't worked out like that. There have been hard luck stories within the games but we have to make sure that we do take our chances in these two games against Macedonia and Holland."

Fervent support
SFA chief executive Gordon Smith believes the Tartan Army will turn up at Hampden determined to cheer Burley's side to what would be two famous victories. "It's almost like a semi-final and the final," he said.

"Saturday is the semi-final and if we get the win then we are in the final and the final is a difficult one against Holland. If we can get to the play-offs, it will be outstanding. We were all disappointed with what happened in Norway, from George Burley and myself, to everyone connected to the association, to the fans, especially the ones who paid money to go to Norway.

"I can understand why they were disappointed. But the team has the opportunity to make everything right. The tickets have been selling and people want to see the team play which is fantastic. We are going to have two big supports for both games and we know the fans will get behind us; they will come along with positive intentions.

"It will change obviously if it doesn't go the way we want it to but they won't be coming to be critical. They will come to see their team get a good result. I've got the belief and hope that we can do it. We are capable of getting two victories."

Injury blow
Steven Caldwell was last night ruled out of the crucial double header. The Burnley captain has failed to shake off the groin injury he picked up in his country's 4-0 thrashing in Norway last month, which was his first cap for almost three-and-a-half years.

Defender Caldwell, 28, has not featured for his club since but Burley decided to retain him in his squad for the final two games of the Group 9 campaign.