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On Saturday May 23rd, 1998, Scotland coach Craig Brown and company played a friendly match against Columbia in what would be there next to final match in preparation for the World Cup finals in France.  They made a very good showing on Giants Stadium's temporary natural grass surface which was actually  installed for America's MLS season.  Containing the like of Rincon, Asprilla and Valderama to a 2-2 draw was no easy task for Scotland.  However win or lose, Coach Brown was more concerned with getting his team fit for World Cup competition. Not only does Scotland have the pressure and distinction of opening the World Cup on June 10th, 1998 but must do so facing Brasil, the undisputed champions on the grass. What does a man and team with such a heavy responsibility ponder. In the below exclusive interviews ,we asked Coach Brown and team members Colin Hendry  (Blackburn Rovers) and John Collins (AS Monaco) for their thoughts regarding competing against Brasil in what should be one of most widely watched and exciting games in World Cup history. 

Q: Is your team in the form at this stage that it should be in preparation for the World Cup?
A: I think so, we're gaining fitness. Our players have had a hard season and we're trying to combine rest with and fitness . So for the moment, we're not peaking perfectly but we hope to do that  (peak) when we play Brasil.

Q: What are your plans for containing Ronaldinho and Romario?
A: Well obviously we have plans to contain them. I thought that we contained Aprilla very today. I'm not saying that Asprilla and Ronaldo are equal in ability but they are not dissimilar. I think you will see that our back three defenders are very capable and as a result I don't think that Ronaldo will find it easy against us.

Q: If you had a message for Brasil What would it be?
A: It would be that we're going to play very well against you and it won't necessarily be easy although Brasil is ranked number one in the world and we're somewhere around the forty-fourth mark . Although this is the case, we would like to think that we are capable of causing an upset in the opening game.

Q: Do you think that you can beat them on the grass?
A:Well as you can see that we played on the grass for an hour there very well and we gifted two goals in fact to Columbia and still we ended the game two-two.  Don't get me wrong, I think that the Brazilian team as the world knows is excellent. However, in recent games they have not played as a team. It is one thing for a team to have excellent players as Brasil surely does but they are not really playing as a unified team at the moment, and it is in moments like these that any team including Brasil can be upset.

Q: Colin Hendry, are you in the condition that you should be for this point in time in preparing for the World Cup?
A: Yes, I'm in good shape, you only need to ask my wife I've got a six month baby boy named Calum. That's my third child. But seriously, everybody's on the team is looking after themselves really well.

Q: How do you feel about playing Brasil for the first match?
A: I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited and I  have great respect for the players and the qualities that they have, and the way that they have dominated world football for a long period.. They really set the tone of the game for everyone else because of their flamboyance and their ability to do things with the ball that alot of professional footballers can't do. So, it's going to be an exciting thing for me, a learning  process for me...but I know at the same time I've got a job to do and I'll be as tuned into the whole situation as any other player on that pitch.

Q: What do you believe Scotland has to do to beat Brasil?

A: We're going to have to play bloody-damn good I think.  But I don't think you can take anything away from the qualities that they have. However, I do believe that it will be eleven players against eleven with everybody having a job to do, and we've got a chance to win. I've never played in a soccer game or seen a game where either team doesn't get a chance to win.  But I'll tell you this, I'm would be very proud just to represent my country in the World Cup. To me that has more significance than even winning the cup. It's every footballer's dream to be able to represent their country in the world's most prestigious football event the World Cup.

Q: John Collins, what are your thoughts regarding facing the Brasil in the opening match in the Stade de France, and how do you think Scotland will fair against the defending champions.

A: To be perfectly honest with you, I look forward to meeting Brasil on the opening day of the World Cup. Our team has struggled very hard to qualify for the cup and we plan to give it everything we've got against Brasil or any other team that we would face.  Don't misunderstand, I have a huge amount of respect for the Brasilians. Any team that has won the World Cup three times or even once deserves respect. Their ability and record speaks for itself.


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