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Nations League: Scotland v Israel

McLeish: ‘I can see the confidence in their eyes’

Alex McLeish and James McFadden need a win over Israel

Nothing less than a win over Israel at Hampden Park will be enough for Alex McLeish and his coach James McFadden (pic: SNS Group) 


It’s win or bust for Scotland boss Alex McLeish as he prepares to take on Israel at Hampden Park this evening.

Nothing less than a victory will do for the Scots as they attempt to secure first place in Group C1 and the accompanying Euro 2020 play-off berth.

It’s a scenario the former Rangers and Hibs manager would probably have taken at the start of the three-team section although having already been beaten by their visitors in the current qualifying campaign, Scotland are well aware of the size of the challenge that awaits.

Last month’s loss in Haifa was one of the worst results in recent times for the national side but such setbacks will be forgiven if mission is accomplished inside the National Stadium.

The thumping weekend win over Albania has helped erase the memories of that shocking loss and McLeish is looking for the good work from his injury-ravaged squad to continue.

“You have to learn from defeat,” he added. “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.

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

McLeish is hoping to win consecutive matches as Scotland manager for the first time since October 2007 during his first stint in charge.

“We respect Israel, they have been on a good run of form, but we feel very strong here at Hampden,” said the 59-year-old.

“We would love to have the fans right behind the players form the very first kick of the ball right through to the end.

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

“It’s a huge game for us, we know it is. The players are under no illusions. We took on a huge game at the weekend after the Israel disappointment and we absolutely nailed it.

“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.”

Late call-up John Fleck could come under consideration for his debut, although McLeish may well reward the same starting XI against Albania with a vote of confidence.

Kick-off: 7.45pm.

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