Saturday will see the Scottish national team continue their Euro 2016 qualifier campaign as they face Georgia. Their first home game, after the 2-1 defeat to Germany in Dortmund, is to be played at Ibrox. The pre-game anxiety felt before meeting the World Champions does not linger as Scotland approach this game with confidence.
In terms of international football, Georgia is a new team. Founded in 1990, the team are controlled by the Georgian Football Federation, which was recognised by both FIFA and UEFA in 1992. The team are ranked 110 in the world, having dropped 15 places in September this year.
Georgia’s first game was a friendly with Lithuania that ended in a 2-2 draw. This was the only game the country played prior to gaining independence in 1991.
Since being allowed to play competitively, Georgia have had no success in qualifying for the major tournaments. In FIFA World Cup qualifiers Georgia’s highest position attained was 3rd in 2002 ahead of the South Korea and Japan tournament. Their best attempt at UEFA European Championship was also 3rd, failing to qualify for England 1996.
Although they do not boast the best track record, Georgia have a few notable successes. Their biggest win came in 1997 when they bet Armenia 7-0. They seem competent facing teams of the same calibre, having recently beaten Lichtenstein and Saudi Arabia.
Worth noting for the Tartan Army is the last meeting between Scotland and Georgia, in which the Scots were beaten 2-0 during the Euro 2008 qualifiers. With three teenagers Georgia went ahead after 16 minutes. The Georgians had no chance of qualifying but took the result as a consolation.
Georgia got off to an unfortunate start in their qualifying campaign this year when Aiden McGeady scored a late goal securing away team Republic of Ireland three points. Georgia had levelled before half time and opted to sit deep and hold on to the point but were unlucky as the Everton player scored in the 89th minute.
So do Scotland have to worry about Georgia?
Strachan’s approach is to take every game seriously, and rightly so. Georgia will not bring the same class of football as Germany though they will not be beaten easily as the likes of Gibraltar. Georgia will keep in mind their last encounter with Scotland and console themselves with a respectable attempt against the Republic of Ireland.
Having said that though, Scotland are improving and looking much fitter as the year is progressing. The Scots are invigorated after giving the German’s a scare, cementing themselves as a team that will not be beaten easily.
Georgia will also remember their 3rd place positions achieved in Euro and World Cup qualifying. With the playoff system introduced this year that would allow 3rd placed teams to progress further, there is a real chance for Georgia should they improve their game and hold on. It remains to be seen though if they can mould themselves into a strong attacking team ahead of future clashes.
Written by Daniel Lafferty