Scotland vs Albania - McLeish demands Scotland show fight in Nations League opener

Posted Monday, September 10, 2018 by PA

Scotland vs Albania - McLeish demands Scotland show fight in Nations League opener

Alex McLeish wants Scotland to come out fighting in their Nations League opener against Albania at Hampden Park on Monday night.

The Scots are still recovering from the punishing 4-0 friendly defeat to World Cup semi-finalists Belgium at the national stadium on Friday night,  the biggest home loss in 45 years.

McLeish, who confirmed Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths had recovered from a knock,  is hoping for what he  believes to be a typical Scottish response to adversity in the first Group C1 fixture.

“Mentality is often questioned and Scottish mentality is often questioned,” he said.

“Very often when Scots people are backed into a corner they come out fighting and give their best performances.

“I am not saying that everyone is against us but the players know that to get their names on the international map again they have to be winning these games.

“We have to change the perception from, ‘we will not do it again’ to, ‘we have a great team in the making, and exciting times ahead’ and that is what we are striving for.”

Indeed, McLeish, in his second spell as national team boss, stressed the importance of a change in perception of the country’s football team who have not qualified for the finals of a major competition since the 1998 World Cup in France.

The newly-formed UEFA tournament offers an increased chance of reaching the 2020 European Championship and the former Scotland defender is looking to take advantage.

He said: “I am hearing from people that it is more hope than expectation.

“We have to change that perception and the players are motivated.

“Andy Robertson has been a good leader in his short spell as captain.

“He has rallied the guys round and there will be motivation within the group.

“This is where it starts and it is a great opportunity for us to get our name on the map again, but we know that we have to respect every opponent.”

Albania boss Christian Panucci is looking for another win over Scotland.

The former Italy defender crushed the Scots’ Euro 2008 dream when his injury-time header secured the Azzurri a 2-1 win in Glasgow.

Panucci described the match 11 years ago as “probably the best night of my career” and in this UEFA Nations League clash – Scotland’s first in Group C1, he is looking to capitalise on any Scottish fragility following the defeat by Belgium.

Speaking at the national stadium after his squad had taken a look at the pitch and surroundings, Panucci, speaking through an interpreter, said: “The Scots will be suffering after the defeat and will be low on confidence.

“We know Scotland will be hurting after the 4-0 defeat and we will come here to do our best to win the match.

“They know better than anyone that they need to find the courage to move on from the defeat and move forward.

“They will wear the shirt with lots of pride, we know that and we know they will be extremely difficult to beat.

“It is hard to say if Scotland have moved forward or back since that night I played.

“But it is never easy to play Scotland, especially with them hurting after this defeat.

“Scotland have good quality and are difficult to play against.

“We will give them the utmost respect but we will try and win the game.”

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