RICHEST AFRICANS

Adrian Gore

0out of 5

Alami Lazraq

0out of 5

Youssef Mansour

0out of 5

Aliko Dangote

0out of 5

FAMOUS AFRICAN PASTORS

Chris Okotie

0out of 5

Mensah Otabil

3out of 5

Ikechi Anya hails Derby team-mate Chris Martin

by 06/10/2017 19:36:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Chris Martin has rarely been met with much critical appraisal for Scotland
  • However, Ikechi Anya's ability in dark blue has never been short of appreciation
  • Anya hopes his Derby team-mate can fire Scotland into the World Cup play-off

By John Mcgarry For The Scottish Daily Mail

Published: 19:36 EDT, 6 October 2017 | Updated: 19:36 EDT, 6 October 2017

FIFA's record books can have it. Let them show that Martin Skrtel's intervention was the difference between success and failure if they so desire.

For a nation almost conditioned to expect failure, however, the moment which changed everything will forever be synonymous with the belief and desire of two Derby County players who began the night stationed on the Hampden bench.

If Ikechi Anya's ability in dark blue has never been short of appreciation from the Tartan Army, it's fair to say the talents of Chris Martin have rarely been met with such critical appraisal.

Scotland striker Chris Martin is congratulated by Derby County team-mate Ikechi Anya
Scotland striker Chris Martin is congratulated by Derby County team-mate Ikechi Anya

Scotland striker Chris Martin is congratulated by Derby County team-mate Ikechi Anya

Without a goal for club or country since his late winner against Slovenia in March — fully 21 games ago — the 28-year-old might have struggled to win a popularity contest in his own household in the intervening months.

He would have done well to buy a pint for himself in the bars of Mount Florida late on Thursday, though.

Gambling on a telling delivery from Anya as some began to make for the exits, his run to the front post applied sufficient pressure on Skrtel's weary limbs to force an error that seemed incongruous with the tone of everything that had come up until that point.

In so many respects, Martin's Scotland story can be likened to the narrative of this campaign: Criticised, maligned, written off but still in there at the death fighting and believing. Both may yet have the perfect ending.

Scotland's 2018 World Cup hopes remain alive after a sensational late winner on Thursday
Scotland's 2018 World Cup hopes remain alive after a sensational late winner on Thursday

Scotland's 2018 World Cup hopes remain alive after a sensational late winner on Thursday

'You could see the impact Chris had when he came on,' Anya said. 'He hit the bar and then also set up a good chance. His hold up play was good. He's a big lad and can do that.

'He was tremendous when he came on and if he plays on Sunday night then I'm certain he'll be just as good against Slovenia.

'We've got a good selection of attacking players. But I'm lucky to see Chris every day in training at Derby. When we do finishing drills I know how good he is. When he took that shot which hit the bar, l had been screaming at him to shoot.

'He scored some important goals and if he could get another one on Sunday it would be a very nice sight.'

If it goes without saying that Strachan would take another fortuitous late goal to get the job done, there will be little benefit to be had for the collective blood pressure of the nation.

Thursday's epic encounter must have taken years from us. When Martin Dubravka, the outstanding Slovak keeper, wasn't pulling off miraculous saves, the woodwork was proving his faithful ally.

Having already scored four goals at Hampden in the 87th minute or later in this campaign, asking for a fifth threatened to stretch the bounds of credibility. Anya's accuracy from the byeline ensured the great late show rolls on to Ljubljana.

'For a winger it's always about just trying to put the ball into a good area,' he reflected.

'One of two things can happen — either you score or it's an own goal because it can be such a hard ball to defend. I was delighted to see the ball end up in the net.

'Some days it goes in and some it doesn't.

'Their keeper was having a great game and we hit the crossbar twice. So I think we deserved that bit of luck.

'I felt we were brilliant the whole game, even when they had 11 players. We were playing some good stuff and it just looked like the ball wasn't going to go in.'

For one member of the Anya clan, the winning goal was just reward for hard miles travelled and some ungodly hours kept.

'My mum was at the game, she always comes up,' revealed Castlemilk-raised Anya. 'I think my godparents were as well.

'She makes the trip, she drives up. She texted me at 7.30 this morning to say she'd left at 5.30am, coming from Oxford. It was eight hours in the car for her, but she loves it. I'm proud for her. The result tonight is for her — it's always for her.

'The amount of miles she does to watch me is incredible. When we played England a couple of years ago, she drove up, drove back, and quickly did the same thing again. She doesn't like flying.'

Quite how she would negotiate the not inconsiderable distance to Russia remains unclear but that's a problem hopefully for another day.

In the here and now, the journey only stretches as far as Slovenia. But Scotland and their manager travel with justifiable optimism.

The subject of extreme criticism as his side slumped out of Trnava on the back of a three-goal hiding 12 months ago, the wisdom behind Strachan's decision to draft in Darren Fletcher and Barry Bannan to replace Stuart Armstrong and Scott Brown was borne out by a result that saw Scotland jump to second place in Group F.

'All of us, we can't say enough good words about the gaffer,' Anya said.

'He's one of the best guys I've ever worked with in football.

'He calls you up to the squad and it's a great privilege. He knows the game, he knows what players he wants and I think we're now a good, creative side.

'The momentum's been building and if we can get to these play-offs then it will be an incredible achievement considering the start we had.'

No one is yet digging out the maps of Russia ahead of the Slovenia match, though.

'Nothing's done yet,' Anya stressed. 'All we've done is put ourselves in an even better position. What we know, however, is that if we do win then the play-offs are more or less there.'

No tags for this article
View More Posts

Movies

News from all over the world

THE DETECTIVE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

Pride Of A Housegirl

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

Wet Love

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Read More

The Powerful Virgin

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Read More

BEAUTIFUL BRIDE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More

BARREN MARRIAGE

4.2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Read More