Friday 28 October 2016

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan senses squad excitement

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan senses a healthy "nervous excitement" among his squad and the fans ahead of their European Qualifier against Georgia tonight.

Scotland are aiming to continue their promising campaign in Tbilisi and remain in touch with Group D leaders Poland who sit three points ahead of Strachan's men with four games left.

Poland have put eight goals past Georgia but their most recent 4-0 win saw Robert Lewandowski net a hat-trick from the 89th minute onwards, while Republic of Ireland needed a brilliant late winner from Aiden McGeady to win at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena.

With so much at stake, Strachan senses the anticipation from the fans ahead of Scotland's seventh match in the group.

"They are getting what we are getting," he said. "I have had it all the way through my career when approaching good games that I look forward to, or any game, there is a nervous excitement. So we are in the same boat.

"It doesn't mean we are apprehensive, it doesn't mean we are scared, it means we are looking forward to it."

Coach Stuart McCall revealed on Wednesday that two or three places in the team were still to be decided but Strachan said at his pre-match conference: "It's done now. The players don't know yet. And it's not been easy.

"I have a lot of players playing well. Whatever the team is, there will be good players on the bench."

Scotland went out on to the Boris Paichadze surface to train afterwards with most of the surface in the shade by the time they had finished in the early evening. The game kicks off at 8pm local time but temperatures have been in the early 30s in Tbilisi and it remains warm at night. And the heat has influenced Strachan's preparations.

"We have taken the heat into consideration in a lot of things we do - the time and how long we train," he said.

"I don't think we will do as much tomorrow as we will normally do, and that's determined by the heat.

"But we did a lot of training before we came here. That determined how we trained in Scotland."

Scotland lost on their last visit to Georgia, a 2-0 defeat which ultimately cost them a place at the Euro 2008 finals after beating France home and away earlier in the campaign.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has played down the extra pressure facing the world champions as they bid to topple Poland from top spot in Euro 2016 Group D qualifying tonight.

"Compared to other years it is a bit of a different starting point. We are used to being ahead, in pole position in groups," Loew said. "But it is not a special situation. We are happy to be in this situation...it is a special challenge that I do not feel as pressure.

"Poland are on a high...they are group leaders and know they can qualify," added Loew.

"They have good harmony and are enjoying their game. We know we will meet opponents who are dangerous."

Loew's team, who lost to Poland 2-0 last year, are a point behind in second place. Scotland, who are Germany's opponents on Monday, occupy third spot on 11.

"Poland have a clear philosophy," Loew added. "In all their games apart from Gibraltar they have had less possession than their opponents. They give the game to the opponent and wait. For us the issue is what solutions can we find."

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