Gordon Strachan tells fans to expect long and nervous night

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan during the press conference at Stadion Stozice, Ljubljana. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan during the press conference at Stadion Stozice, Ljubljana. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire
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Gordon Strachan has warned fans to expect another long and nervous night as the battle for second place in Group F goes down to the wire.

Scotland, who will wear their pink change strip once more, must win against Slovenia tonight after overcoming Slovakia on Thursday thanks to a last-minute own goal.

Victory would secure the group runners-up spot and a place in next month’s two-legged World Cup 
play-offs.

Strachan must decide whether to freshen up his team or stick with the side which edged out Slovakia at Hampden.

“They [Slovenia] were involved in a gruelling game as well [v England],” said the national manager. “Do they freshen it up? Do we need to freshen it up? Is there enough time in terms of putting a new system together? There is very little time to do anything.”

Scotland trained at the compact, 16,000 Stozice stadium in Ljubljana last night. But Strachan was again giving little away in terms of his personnel other than to hint there will be few, if any, changes to the side which worked so hard against Slovakia.

“It is very hard to refresh,” he said. “Some top, top clubs can just do that and change systems but we have to put in a bit more work. But it is always in your mind.”

Asked if it will be the kind of long and nervous night he predicted against Slovakia, Strachan said: “It will be another one of those I think.”

There was positive news for Scotland fans on the eve of the game after Belgium’s 4-3 triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group H meant it is that group that now looks most likely to provide the worst runner-up. One of the nine second-placed sides in European qualifying will miss out on a play-off place. It means Scotland are guaranteed to go through to the knockout round – providing, of course, they win tonight.