Gordon Strachan wants his players to summon up the spirit of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games and national heroes like Andy Murray and keep a “spring in the step” of Scottish sport by beating Georgia in their 2016 European Championship qualifier at Ibrox tonight.
Despite losing 2-1 to Germany in their Group D opener in Dortmund last month, the performance against the World Cup winners, especially in the second half, imbued further confidence in and within the Scots’ camp which has been growing in the last year and more.
On the eve of the qualifier, Strachan pointed to other success stories in Scottish sport when asked about expectations of his team, who face Georgia before travelling to Warsaw for the second of the double-header against Poland on Tuesday night. He said: “I don’t know (about expectation) but from the feeling I get when I walk about the place, people are feeling good about themselves.
“That is what we are meant to do as a sport, as football. The Commonwealth Games made people feel better with performances of the Scottish athletes, it is the same when Andy Murray does well, it was the same when Stephen Gallacher got picked (for the Ryder Cup team). There is a spring in our step and we are happy at the moment that we seem to be adding to the spring in the step of the Scottish sport fan, whether football or not. There has been a build-up for the last 16 months to get the performance we got in the second half against Germany.
“We look at the first 20 minutes and we could have done better, individually and as a group, and hopefully when we get to that situation again, we will be able to deal with it better. But tomorrow we could put on the best performance you have seen by a Scottish side and the footballing gods decide that you are not going to win. That happens. However, we could have a lucky day when we score a couple of scruffy goals; that is football. But what we can do, is leave no stone unturned, and do as much as we can for the Georgia game.”
Strachan will not name his team or captain until today but the absence of skipper Darren Fletcher from the press conference fuelled speculation that the midfielder could drop out. Fletcher has played only 25 minutes of football since he was substituted in Dortmund.
The Scotland boss, who was joined in his media duties by Celtic skipper Scott Brown, claimed the impressive performances of Alan Hutton who retained his international place when frozen out by Aston Villa, “blew away” concerns about Fletcher’s match fitness.