Scotland land Israel and all-Ireland tie beckons in Euro 2020 play-offs
Scotland will host Israel in the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs next March while Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill could enjoy a Windsor Park farewell in a winner-takes-all clash against the Republic.
Those were the results of a draw conducted in Nyon on Friday morning as UEFA determined the pairings of the 16 teams in the hunt for the four remaining places at next summer’s finals.
Steve Clarke’s Scotland got a home draw against Israel, the side that finished fifth in Group G during regular qualifying. Scotland lost 2-1 away to Israel in October 2018 but won the Hampden rematch 3-2 the following month.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@UEFAEURO) November 22, 2019
Should Scotland win that, they will travel to the winner of the other Path C semi-final between Norway and Serbia five days later.
Clarke said: “We played them in the Nations League group stage and hopefully we can get a positive start. I think they were two close games.
“It’d be nice to repeat the win at Hampden. Every game will come with its own level of pressure and that’s something we have to embrace.”
Asked whether the postponement of Ladbrokes Premiership games would help his team’s cause, Clarke added on Sky Sports News: “The longer you get to prepare your team, the better for everyone.
“There are hurdles to overcome, we will keep an open mind.”
It was already known that Northern Ireland will travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina while the Republic of Ireland are away to Slovakia but Friday’s draw determined the location of the final in Path B.
And the news offered a carrot to O’Neill. The 50-year-old, appointed Stoke boss earlier this month, plans to remain in charge of Northern Ireland for the play-offs but thought he may well have been in charge in Belfast for the final time in last weekend’s goalless draw with Holland.
However, either Northern Ireland or Bosnia will host the final, setting up the possibility of a match against the Republic at Windsor Park.
In Path A, Hungary will travel to Bulgaria, with the winner hosting either Iceland or Romania in the final.
In Group D, it was determined that the winner of the semi-final between Georgia and Belarus will host the final against either North Macedonia or Kosovo.
The semi-finals will take place on March 26, with the finals on March 31.