Scotland coach John Carver says the national team has the right personality to shrug off any pressure and seal a place in the World Cup play-offs this week.
Friday night’s qualifier against Moldova gives Scotland the opportunity to take three points and guarantee second place in the qualifying group, putting the team into the knock-out competition for a place at Qatar 2022.
Carver said that the players arrived in Glasgow in good spirits before travelling to Spain for warm weather training ahead of the game, and he believes that experiences over the last year have shown that this squad is one that has the attributes to succeed.
Asked what one trait they possess that gives him confidence, he said: “It’s everything.
“You can see that they find a way to win, so they have a mentality to win that is very important.
“We have some very good technical players who are playing a decent standard of football.
“But for me it’s all about their personalities.
“We’ve got a group of players who have actually got a strong personality to deal with pressurised situations.
“Let’s be honest here, it’s going to be a pressurised situation on Friday night. Although we’re away in Moldova, there’s going to be a hint of pressure on them because we have to get the right result to finish in second place.
“But these players have such strong personalities and character that they can deal with that.”
Moldova sit bottom of Group F with just two games to go, and while Carver believes Scotland should win in Chisinau, he said there was every reason not to take the opposition lightly.
“I like to think we will get the result that we need, and when you put all the factors together then we should,” he said. “But we have to deal with tough opposition who are going to make it very difficult for us.
“This is a team who has improved immensely from when their coach came in and took over. I think they lost their first game 8-0 but they’ve improved their organisation and had a steady team right throughout the group.
“We know they have a threat on the counter-attack, they do try and play football and they’re very organised.
“We have to find a way of breaking that down so I’m not going into it saying ‘We’re going to win the game for sure’.
“We’re going to have to work hard and we’re going to have to show our character and our personality to make sure we do win the game.”
Carver also gave an update on the squad, saying that Kieran Tierney had trained “exceptionally well” after recovering from an ankle injury and is ready to play.
The coach also welcomed John Souttar, who has the opportunity to add to his three caps after completing a long journey back from serious injuries.
“I actually went to the game to watch him on Saturday against Dundee United and he was outstanding,” Carver said. “All the boys know him anyway but he has fitted in straight away.
“That’s a perfect fit, when you look at how he plays in the Hearts team, it’s more or less the same system as how we play, and the way he steps forward with the ball.
“I think in the game I watched he gave the ball away once in 95 minutes. That’s what impressed me more than anything. Because on Monday night if he is called on to play that position, we are going to have some of the ball and he is going to have to step in and have possession.
“That was on my mind when I was looking at him. He is suited to the system we play so it’s a perfect fit.”
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