Scotland boss Steve Clarke insists nobody is “shying away” from the importance of a win against Moldova to keep the nation’s World Cup hopes alive.
A 2-0 defeat in the Qatar 2022 qualifier against Denmark in Copenhagen on Wednesday continued a difficult run of results for Clarke and his players, and increased the likelihood that Scotland will be fighting for second place in the group.
Scotland now face Moldova at Hampden on Saturday before taking on the group’s second seeds Austria next week and Clarke said that he and his players don’t need reminding of the importance of the games.
“Listen, we know where we are, and we know what this week was all about,” the Scotland manager said at his pre-match media conference.
“We need points that keep us in contention towards the end of the group, to keep us fighting so that in October and November we’re in the mix for qualification.
“We still have that in front of us. We need a performance and we need a win against Moldova and that’s what we focus on.”
Though reaching the Euros after a 23-year absence from major finals was a significant achievement for Clarke, the former Kilmarnock boss has seen the side win just once in the last ten competitive games and has struggled to score goals and keep clean sheets recently.
He accepts that Saturday presents a “must-win” game and hopes that an improved performance can be the platform for three points.
“We have to win,” he said.
“Nobody is shying away from that. We have to win.
“If we can win and play well, that’d be great. If we just win, that’s fine.
“Hopefully the two will marry up, that’s what you always hope for. We’ll be better, we’ll be good in the game and the lads have been good in training. There’s a little edge and you can feel it already.
“They know they’re going into a pivotal moment in the group, so let’s see what we produce.”
Scotland will have John McGinn, Nathan Patterson and Stephen O’Donnell available after Covid issues ruled them out of the first game of the camp.
“It’s more or less a full squad,” Clarke said. “There’s a couple with knocks from the other night but hopefully everyone will be fit and available.