Belfast Telegraph

Strachan is just so thrilled by Scotland's late World glory bid


By Staff Reporter

Gordon Strachan is feeling excitement more than any other emotion ahead of Scotland's decisive World Cup qualifiers.

Scotland hauled themselves back into contention ahead of tonight's visit of Slovakia after a disappointing start to Group F when they took four points from their opening four matches.

Strachan's side have since gained 10 points from their next four and were only denied a clean sweep by England striker Harry Kane's dramatic equaliser at Hampden Park in June.

The Scotland boss looked to be moments from ending his reign before Chris Martin popped up with a late winner against Slovenia in March, so it is no surprise he is relishing the chance to lead his country to the play-offs.

Victories over both Slovakia and Slovenia this week would secure second spot in Group F and a likely two-legged encounter in November for a place in Russia next summer.

Strachan said: "Forget how big it is, it's how exciting it is. And it's really exciting. Forget the rest of the emotions, excitement takes over the whole thing.

"When you have a challenge, excitement comes along. It's really exciting for me and really enjoyable taking on this challenge with the players.

"We try and start at the same level where we are all looking forward to joining up with each other. There's always a good buzz when we meet, but obviously the buzz is higher if you have got those couple of wins under your belt.

"We believed we could come back in and play the way we have played in recent months."

Strachan has decisions to make after Celtic midfielders Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong pulled out, along with Newcastle's Matt Ritchie.

Hoops' Callum McGregor, Hibernian's John McGinn and Sheffield Wednesday's Barry Bannan are all in the frame.

  • Scotland v Slovakia, World Cup Qualifying Group F: Hampden Park, Tonight, 7.45pm

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