Scotland v Georgia: Visitors lack flair of old, says Shota Arveladze

Shota Arveladze
Arveladze was on target the last time Georgia played in Scotland
Scotland v Georgia - European Championship qualifying
Venue: Ibrox Stadium Date: Saturday, 11 October Kick-off: 17:00
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland & online. Live text coverage on BBC Sport website.

Shota Arveladze remains one of Georgia's most revered footballers thanks to his 26 goals in 61 internationals.

Helping him to that impressive tally were team-mates who also stand head and shoulders above most who have pulled on the Georgia jersey - the likes of Gheorge Kinkladze and Temuri Ketsbaia.

But as his countrymen prepare to face Scotland in Euro 2016 qualifying on Saturday at Ibrox, former Rangers striker Arveladze admits Georgia can no longer boast players of that calibre.

Gone are the flair players who could turn a game in an instant, and with them the buccaneering style that helped make Georgia capable of competing with the more illustrious names in international football.

"To be honest this is not the best generation we've had," said 41-year-old Arveladze, now manager of Kasimpasa SK in Turkey's top flight.

"We had some good players and individuals in my generation, myself, Ketsbaia, Kinkladze and then the next generation was Levan Kobiashvili and Zurab Khizanishvili who were a good generation with a lot of quality.

Shota Arveladze was on target when Georgia lost 2-1 against Scotland at Hampden in Euro 2008 qualifying
Shota Arveladze was on target when Georgia lost 2-1 against Scotland in Euro 2008 qualifying

"In this moment we have very very few. A couple of boys are good talented kids but not as much as before.

"Everybody wants them to play the same football as we have always been playing, and this team is a little bit defensive because we have less creativity and quality than we used to have. Because of this the coach decides to be more defensive."

That coach is Arveladze's former team-mate Ketsbaia, who also spent time in Scotland with Dundee in season 2001-02.

Ketsbaia has been Georgia boss for five years but Arveladze says his tactics and set-up are now being called into question.

He expects Ketsbaia's charges to stick to a defensive style and try to hit the Scots on the break.

That approach proved unsuccessful in their Group D opener, however, with an Aiden McGeady double earning Republic of Ireland a 2-1 victory in Tbilisi.

Arveladze worked under Dick Advocaat (right) during a stint as a coach at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar
Arveladze worked under Dick Advocaat (right) during a stint as a coach at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar

"The coach was very popular," Arveladze told BBC Scotland. "When Ketsbia took over he had a run of one year when he did not lose games, it was a big success for the manager.

"At the beginning everybody accepted playing games to not lose, because it was such a long time where we didn't win and mostly lost. But after a while when the team needed to win we still played with some defensive tactics. The people start criticising the manager about the defensive tactics and now it's a negative.

"The situation can be totally different but from my experience of being a player, a coach, and a manager, it's very hard to change by saying 'boys we need to come out and play now' - because that's the way you train and work for four years.

"I don't think they will open up too much and will try to get some counter attacks, like they did against Ireland.

"Ireland were not better than us, I was surprised by Ireland - they were not good. We didn't deserve to lose but luck is not on his side at the moment. For him it's a crucial game, for us as well, and hopefully we can get a result."

Arveladze was on target the last time Georgia visited Glasgow, levelling the score at 1-1 before Craig Beattie netted to seal a 2-1 win in Euro 2008 qualifying.

The Georgians gained revenge in Tbilisi with a 2-0 triumph in the Scots' penultimate group match which helped ensure Alex McLeish's outfit missed out on qualification by just two points.

Shota Arveladze celebrates Rangers' Scottish Premier League title triumph at Easter Road in 2005
Shota Arveladze celebrates Rangers' Scottish Premier League title triumph at Easter Road in 2005

Since hanging up his boots in 2008, Arveladze has coached in Holland - working with Louis van Gaal and Dick Advocaat - before heading to Turkey where he bossed Kayserispor before moving to Kasimpasa SK two years ago.

He still, however, looks back on his four year stint at Rangers with great fondness, and is convinced it is only a matter of time before the Ibrox side are back in Scotland's top flight.

"What's happened has happened and you can't bring it back," he added. "I believe the hard time has passed, although I don't know financial things of course.

"You can feel how big Rangers is, playing one year or five years in the lower divisions does not make Rangers weaker or smaller. Rangers is always Rangers. I am hoping they will come back to the Premier League.

"It was fantastic, I come from Ajax, from one of the best period in their time, but Rangers was a fantastic period and a great time of my life."

Shota Arveladze was talking to BBC Scotland's Kenny Macintyre, this article was written by Roddie McVake. The full interview can be heard on Sportsound on Tuesday, October 6.