Georgia’s 2007 hero to face Scotland again

THE Georgian striker who put Scotland to the sword when the sides last met seven years ago has been named in Temuri Ketsbaia’s 24-man squad for the Ibrox rematch next Saturday.

Levan Mchedlidze, right, after his goal against Scotland in 07
Levan Mchedlidze, right, after his goal against Scotland in 07

Empoli forward Levan Mchedlidze netted in a 2-0 win in Tbilisi in 2007, damaging Scottish hopes of qualifying for the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Georgia’s hopes of springing a shock in Glasgow on the road to Euro 2016 will largely rest on his shoulders again. Despite winning 22 caps, he has only scored one other goal for Georgia, who are ranked 110 in the world.

Indeed, Georgia’s attacking limitations are laid bare by Ketsbaia’s squad, with skipper Jaba Kankava – a defensive midfielder with Ukrainian side Dnipro – their top scorer with four goals in 49 caps. The only striker in the squad other than Mchedlidze, Jaba Dvali, has just one cap.

Scotland will, however, need to tame mercurial Spartak Moscow midfielder Jano Ananidze, who is considered to be the finest talent to emerge from the country since Shota Arveladze and Ketsbaia. Despite his lack of discipline on and off the pitch causing his club career to stall, the 21-year-old is still seen as Georgia’s talisman.

Tornike Okriashvili, who plays under ex-Scotland manager Alex McLeish at Racing Genk, will be another threat after netting a wonder-goal against Ireland in last month’s 2-1 defeat.

Georgia squad: Loria (OFI Crete), Kvaskhvadze (Othellos Athienou), Migineishvili (Dinamo Tbilisi), L Dvali (Skonto Riga), D Kvirkvelia (Samtredia), Rekhviashvili (Boluspor), Grigalava (Anzhi), S Kvirkvelia (Rubin Kazan), Khubutia (Hapoel Petach Tivka), Lobjanidze (Omonia Nicosia), Kashia (Vitesse), Ebralidze (Gil Vicente), Ananidze (Spartak Moscow), Okriashvili (Genk), Kazaishvili (Vitesse), Kankava (Dnipro), Kobakhidze (Volyn), Daushvili (Karpaty Lviv), Papava, Tsintsadze, Dzaria, Papanaushvili (all Dinamo Tbilisi), J Dvali (Zestafoni), Mchedlidze (Empoli).