STRACHAN: WE’LL BE PRO-ACTIVE
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has urged his players to set the ball rolling on a successful weekend for Scottish sport by delivering a knockout blow to Belgium.
The Scots host the Group A leaders in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden on Friday, 24 hours before boxer Ricky Burns defends his WBO lightweight title against Raymundo Beltran in Glasgow.
Burns was at the national stadium on Thursday morning to meet the Scotland boss and the players before all parties prepare to face their respective tough challenges.
And, asked if he had any advice for the Coatbridge fighter, Strachan said: “I had about 10 seconds as a boxer.
“I got smacked in the face, threw the gloves away and went home to my mother crying.
“So I’ve got absolutely no advice to give to him. I’ve got to say, they are the bravest people in sport, these boxers.
“We are hoping that, over the weekend, Ricky will do well and we will do well. Hopefully, we can start the ball rolling for a terrific weekend of sport.”
Strachan wants to see bravery from his own players as they aim to put on a show for the Tartan Army against one of the world’s top footballing nations.
He said: “You have to be brave on the ball but not in silly areas.
“It’s difficult to take the game to people. It’s easier to defend when the ball is coming at you. You have to be pro-active at home more.
“I think that’s what the fans would like to see. But the fans are not stupid – they understand we are playing against one of the best teams in the world.”
He added: “The expectations would be us trying to do what I have been trying to set up, to keep the ball and be progressive at the same time.
“You can keep the ball in silly areas and not get anywhere.
“We need to be looking at every opportunity to go forward, looking at our good players to take people on.
“Then, when we lose the ball, have a good shape which makes it difficult for great players to play.
“That’s what they can expect and that’s what we have to give them.”
Belgium boast a three-point advantage at the top of the pool, while Scotland’s own hopes of reaching Brazil next summer are long gone.
But Strachan does not believe motivation should be an issue on the night.
He said: “I don’t think you should need motivated if you are a professional footballer and enjoy a game of football.
“People talk about Churchillian speeches and things like that but I don’t think you really need that.
“Every now and then, if you need to do it and the feeling is right, then fine.
“But I think you should be self-motivated and have the excitement of playing in front of 40,000 for your country.”
Scotland defeated Croatia in their last qualifier in June, before suffering defeat to England despite a decent performance in the friendly at Wembley.
Strachan, keen to keep the momentum going, said: “It would be disappointing if we disappointed on the night.
“I’ve got a vision of how we want to play.
“The players know that and if they keep to that and play the way we want them to play and do the right things and concentrate right, the result will take care of itself.”
He added: “I’m walking out here thinking we are going to win (on Friday) – or we will have a chance to win.
“I’m like that with every game we’ve played. The closer you get to the game, the stronger you feel. That’s the way you are as a football person.
“The closer you get to the game, and the more organised you get with the players, the more you feel better about the game.”
STRACHAN: WE’LL BE PRO-ACTIVE