Charlie Mulgrew believes Scotland can make the most of their sound start in the Uefa Nations League by going on to achieve a 100 per cent record in League C, Group 1.
The veteran defender helped Alex McLeish’s side secure victory and a clean sheet as they defeated Albania 2-0 at Hampden on Monday night to take the early initiative in the three-team section.
Next up for Scotland is a trip to face Israel in Haifa on 11 October, before the group is concluded with a November double-header against Albania in Shkoder and Israel at Hampden.
Winning the group will guarantee a play-off spot for the Euro 2020 finals, as well as promotion to League B of the Nations League, and Mulgrew says he and his team-mates have always been fully aware of the significance of Uefa’s new tournament.
“These are important qualifying games and that is how we have approached it,” said the Blackburn Rovers man. “Right from the outset when this squad came together, the focus was on the Albania game and getting off to a good start. This is a chance to qualify for the Euros, so we want to win every game in the section to put us closer to achieving that target.
“We were happy with the performance on Monday, it was about us being on the front foot. We knew the big game of this international break was the Albania one and we wanted to get off to a good start.
“They are a better side than people give them credit for. They were at the last Euros so that shows they have quality. But it was about us. We were aware we haven’t started other campaigns the way we should have so we knew we’d have to be on the front foot.
“I thought in the first half we were unlucky not to be ahead but thankfully we got a couple of goals in the second half. There were a lot of positives going into half-time, we got the goals we needed to and we’ll move on from here. It’s up to us to create the atmosphere and give the fans something to cheer moving forward.”
Mulgrew won his 38th cap on Monday and, at 32, is one of the senior members of the squad. He was impressed by the contribution of his new defensive partner John Souttar and believes the 21-year-old is equipped for the demands of modern international football.
“John looked very comfortable, he looked good on the ball and we are happy to have him,” said Mulgrew. “We have defenders in the squad who are good with the ball at their feet. That’s the way football is going, you have to do the basics well of course, but the manager wants us to get on the ball and play. That is something we are capable of doing.”