Gordon Strachan: Scotland manager excited by World Cup campaign
|World Cup qualifying: Malta v Scotland|
|Date: Sunday, 4 September Venue: Ta'Qali National Stadium Kick-off: 19:45 BST|
|Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website.|
Gordon Strachan prepares to tackle his second full qualification campaign as Scotland manager with a sense of purpose and exhilaration.
Scotland are in Malta for Sunday's Group F opener as Strachan and his staff attempt to bury the disappointment of failing to reach Euro 2016 with a place at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
"I have been excited for a wee while, the last couple of weeks, and it's built up even more since we met up as a squad on Tuesday," he told BBC Scotland.
"The excitement and reality is there in dealing with the players, the joy you get working with good players and good professionals has added to the excitement of another campaign.
"You never know when the big game is, you just have to make sure you are prepared for that game."
In sharp contrast to the opening match of their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, when they faced the newly-crowned world champions Germany in Dortmund, the Scots face a side at a lowly 176 in the Fifa rankings.
But Strachan argues that those ratings are flawed and that his side will have to stand up to stubborn opponents.
"I don't know where the rankings come from because that's a nonsense, it's a complete and utter nonsense," he said.
"If you only get beat by Croatia 1-0, you only get beat by Italy 1-0 and you score against Austria and it's 2-1, I don't know how the computer works that out but I would take it back and get it fixed!
"You can never really plan a match. What I do know is that Malta make it very difficult for any visiting team.
"Croatia - who we will all agree are a tremendous side and one of the best at the European Championship - found it very difficult here."
The Scottish Football Association have chosen to catchphrase the campaign with the slogan "This Time."
It is a bold statement as the Scots look to end a near two decade-long wait for a place at a major finals.
Strachan agrees with the sentiment.
"That is my belief yes, it is my belief," he said. "Everybody who comes up to me and wishes us good luck and says the last time we were unlucky. All that (gives me belief).
"The players, the staff, the excitement of what you can achieve. The fans have been absolutely terrific and there are 4,500 out here. There were 12,500 stood in the pouring rain after Gibraltar, congratulating the players on their efforts.
"You add all that together and it's quite positive."
|Scotland's 2018 World Cup qualification fixtures|
|4 September: (a) v Malta||26 March: (h) v Slovenia|
|8 October: (h) v Lithuania||10 June: (h) v England|
|11 October: (a) v Slovakia||1 September: (a) v Lithuania|
|11 November: (a) v England||4 September: (h) v Malta|
|5 October: (h) v Slovakia|
|8 October: (a) v Slovenia|