ALEX McLEISH believes he has detected confidence in the eyes of his Scotland players as he prepared for tonight’s must-win UEFA Nations League encounter against Israel at Hampden.

The Scots can earn promotion to League B and qualify for the Euro 2020 play-offs with a victory – and they are on a high following their 4-0 win in Albania at the weekend.

However, Big Eck knows a draw would see the visitors progress instead by virtue of a better head-to-head record following their 2-1 triumph in Haifa last month.

McLeish said: “The confidence is very high with the players. I can tell, I can feel it, I can see it in their eyes.

“We know we have home advantage and a very good opportunity to do this. These players can do this.

“We respect Israel, they have been on a good run of form, but we feel very strong here at Hampden. We would love to have the fans right behind the players form the very first kick of the ball right through to the end.

“It’s a huge game for us, we know it is. The players are under no illusions.”

McLeish added his team have learned from their earlier defeat against tonight’s opponents when they had Hearts central defender John Souttar red-carded and Celtic left-back inadvertently diverted a right-wing cross past Allan McGregor for the winner.

He added: “You have to learn from defeat. You have to look at what the opponent did to you, how they did it.

“Nobody likes to lose. It makes you work even harder to put it right and correct it. We did that against Albania, with a fantastic performance from the players.

“I don’t think you can play in a Scotland shirt and think there’s no expectation on you. I know there’s expectation on me. The players are no different.”

Scotland won their previous game at the national stadium when they overcame a stuffy Albanian side 2-0 with the aid of a breakthrough own goal and a killer second from Hearts’ on-loan striker Steven Naismith.

A similar scoreline would suit McLeish, his players and the Tartan Army this evening.

Let’s hear that famous Hampden Roar, lads!


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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