Shaun Maloney: Scotland win in Georgia would be 'huge'

Scotland forward Shaun Maloney
Shaun Maloney has been a mainstay of Scotland's Euro 2016 qualification campaign

Shaun Maloney believes it is vital Scotland win their next Euro 2016 qualifier against Georgia.

A deflected shot by Maloney, 32, sealed the Scots a point against Republic of Ireland last week, the ball going in off the hosts' John O'Shea.

The Scots sit third in Group D, three points off Poland and two off Germany.

"It's huge," said Maloney of the Georgia game in September. "It's really important we win and if we do, it means anything can happen."

Scotland, targeting their first appearance at a major finals since the 1998 World Cup in France, have collected 11 points from their opening six qualifiers and have home games against Germany and Poland after meeting Georgia with their final group game in Gibraltar.

"I don't think we could've asked for too much better. We can be very happy with where we are at the minute," midfielder Maloney told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"We play Germany and Poland, the two strongest sides in the group. If we beat Georgia then I think it sets it up for just having a real go at trying to beat one of those teams.

Shaun Maloney and Gordon Strachan
Maloney has become a mainstay of Gordon Strachan's team

"I remember playing there [in Georgia in 2007] under Alex McLeish and we struggled really badly [losing 2-0] but it's a different mentality in the group at the moment and it's a different mentality away from home.

"In the second half of the game at home [Scotland's 1-0 Group D win in October], we sort of let them back into the game. They're not a bad side. Ireland had a really good result against them away from home [winning 2-1].

"I have looked at the group and the permutations of certain results but I don't think it really does work out that way. The pressure now in each game just snowballs.

"The game against Ireland, the pressure was huge again and it was ramped up from the one in November. Because we find ourselves in a position where we have a chance of qualifying, that pressure will only grow with each game we play."

Scotland coach Gordon Strachan has described Maloney as "the most conscientious football player I've ever come across" and the Chicago Fire player has scored four goals so far in Scotland's group.

Maloney's international goals
Opener against Faroe Islands in 2-0 win, 6 June 2007Winner in 2-0 victory over Macedonian, 10 September 2013
First Scotland goal in 2-2 draw with Poland, 14 October 2014Winner in 1-0 defeat of Republic of Ireland, 14 November 2014
Opener in 6-1 win over Gibraltar, 29 March 2015Third goal in 6-1 win over Gibraltar, 29 March 2015

However, the equaliser in Dublin was recorded as an O'Shea own goal.

And Maloney explained: "I feel a little bit embarrassed, I did an interview after the game and I think I might have said that I'd like it to be my goal but I've since seen it and I certainly didn't know it was that big a deflection.

"The manager's system helps. He puts a huge onus on the three players that play behind the striker, which has been Steven Fletcher.

"There's a big demand from him that those three players were not big in size and the reason for him playing us to create and to try and score. It allows us to be a lot higher up the pitch.

"We work incredibly hard as a team. I hope that comes across. We're very organised. With the two of those things, we seem to give ourselves a chance of winning games away from home where in previous years we certainly found it harder."

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