Israel v Scotland: Too early for targets, says Steve Clarke

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland
Grant Hanley and Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke gave Grant Hanley his 30th Scotland cap against Austria
World Cup qualifying Group F: Israel v Scotland
Venue: Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv Date: Sunday, 28 March Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW/online; text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app; highlights on BBC One Scotland from 22:30

Scotland "haven't set a target" for their opening World Cup qualifiers as they prepare for their second group game, says manager Steve Clarke.

The Scots drew 2-2 with Austria on Thursday and host the Faroe Islands on Wednesday after Sunday's away match against Israel.

Israel opened their campaign with a 2-0 home defeat by Denmark.

"It's too early - I said before I think the section is going to be a little bit unpredictable," said Clarke.

"No, I haven't set a target. You set yourself a points target and you don't reach it, you disappoint yourself. So, it's better just to take each game as a game and get the points you can get out of the game."

Scotland played Israel three times in 2020, twice in the Nations League and also in the European Championship play-off semi-final. The latter was won on penalties by the Scots but Israel got the better of Clarke's side over the other two games - drawing at Hampden and winning 1-0 at home in November.

"The November game, we were chasing the win because we wanted to top the Nations League section," Clarke explained.

"We conceded the first goal, which always makes you chase a little bit more frantic and sometimes when you're frantic you need a little bit of composure to find the key finish in the game and we didn't manage to do that.

"But certainly if we create enough chances and get enough pressure on the Israelis as we did in that game I'd like to think we have boys on the pitch that can score goals."

Debutant Che Adams joined Lyndon Dykes in Scotland's attack in the second half against Austria and fellow forward Kevin Nisbet is the only uncapped left in Clarke's squad.

"It's an international squad that is grown well together," the manager said.

"Scott McTominay has spoken about belief and arrogance. It's not arrogance in a bad way, it's in a good way where we want to go on and every time we go to the pitch, we've got a chance to win the game. That's what we're trying to build.

"These players when I came in were relatively inexperienced international football-wise and now they are picking up more caps.

"Grant Hanley came in, he got his 30th cap the other night - that's experience. Andrew Robertson has over 40 I believe, John McGinn is I think approaching 30 now. You're learning all the time."

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