Steve Clarke’s men defeated the Faroe Islands 1-0 on Tuesday night to move on to 17 points in Group F. They cannot topple Denmark, who lead the pool on 24 points with two rounds of fixtures remaining, but they lead third-placed Israel by four points and are in the box seat to finish second.
Only Scotland and Israel can finish second and secure a play-off spot. Austria are out of the picture after losing 1-0 to the Danes.
Scotland’s destiny, in terms of second place, is in their own hands. A win over Moldova on Friday, November 12 in Chisinau for them will secure a place in the play-offs. On the same night, Israel travel to Vienna. If Scotland were to slip up in eastern Europe, they host Denmark three days later at Hampden with another chance to seal it (Israel play the Faroe Islands at home).
Scotland are now red-hot favourites to be in the play-offs, and at present would be seeded for the matches next March.
Twelve teams – the ten second-placed teams from the main qualification section and the two best-ranked Nations League teams – go into the mini-tournament, split into three pathways. Two seeds will face off against unseeded nations in a one-legged semi-final, before the winners of those ties play in a one-off final. The home team for that match would be decided by a draw. In total, three of the 12 play-off teams progress to the World Cup.
Currently, the six seeded teams are Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Switzerland, Scotland and Czech Republic, and the six unseeded teams are Norway, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Wales (Nations League) and Austria (Nations League).