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Alex McLeish wants to hear Hampden roar for Nations League decider

Scotland host Israel in a winner-takes-all clash on Tuesday.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish wants a big Hampden crowd for crunch Nations League game against Israel (Adam Davy/PA)
Scotland manager Alex McLeish wants a big Hampden crowd for crunch Nations League game against Israel (Adam Davy/PA)

Alex McLeish called on the Tartan Army to pack out Hampden Park for Scotland’s crucial Nations League game against Israel on Tuesday night.

Despite having an injury-ravaged squad with nine dropouts, McLeish’s side hammered 10-man Albania 4-0 at the Loro Borici Stadium in Shkoder to take them to within 90 minutes of a play-off spot.

Winger Ryan Fraser’s first goal in dark blue after 14 minutes gave the visitors the lead before home skipper Mergim Mavraj was sent off six minutes later by referee Vladislav Bezborodov for a headbutt on Ryan Christie.

Scotland eased to victory (Adam Davy/PA)

Striker Steven Fletcher scored with a penalty just before the interval and winger James Forrest grabbed a double in the second-half, his first two for the national team.

Scotland now host Israel, with any type of win securing a play-off spot for the 2020 European Championship.

McLeish is clear about Tuesday’s task  – Israel need only a draw – and is looking for a big crowd to help the players, who enjoyed the backing of over 2,000 travelling supporters in Albania.

“We always try to win so we have set ourselves up as have Israel and it should be a good game,” said the Scotland boss, who will “wrap these guys in cotton wool for Tuesday night now”.

“We are at home so let’s hope there is a response from the Tartan Army. We’d like the supporters to come to cheer the guys to victory.

“If we play to that level again then we have a good chance.”

After losing  2-1 in Israel in the previous Group C1 game, McLeish acknowledged he was under some pressure going into the Albania match but insists he is only at the start of the journey in his second spell as national team manager.

Ryan Fraser, left, celebrates his first goal for Scotland (Adam Davy/PA)

The former Scotland defender said: “Football is a bit like that. Every manager will tell you, it is tough being in the dugout but it’s in the DNA, it’s in the blood in terms of the pressure.

“I’m only just starting the job. That’s three competitive games we have had and this feels like a start.

“We have played a lot of friendly games and took on some tough ones.

James Forrest bagged a brace for Scotland (Adam Davy/PA)

“We’re not shouting anything yet and we have a hard game ahead, but we are up against a team who have been in good form recently.”

Albania will finish bottom of the section with just three points and asked after the match if he would resign, boss Christian Panucci, speaking through an interpreter said: “If the president of the federation doesn’t believe in me it is up for negotiations.

“You have to leave the players alone, is it totally my fault. I have tried to change the line-up so everything is my fault.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph