Strachan Insists Georgia Game is Not ‘Must-Win’

In his pre-match press conference, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan declared that his side’s match with Georgia at Dinamo Arena on September 4 should not be categorized as ‘must-win’.

When asked by the BBCs Chris McLaughlin whether the Scots could afford not to take three points from Tbilisi, his response was a short and sweet “no”.

The Aberdeen and Leeds United legend, who won over 50 caps for his country, elaborated on what he expected from the match.

“It will be a very, very competitive match, we know that. When we played them last October we had to be at our very best to win. I was proud of how Scotland played that day and Georgia ought to have been proud of themselves too,” said Strachan who oversaw Scotland earn a 1-0 victory over the Georgians in Glasgow last October.

Strachan appeared relaxed during the conference, taking time to ask translator George Mirashvili about the various framed photos of famous players to have played in Georgia or with Georgians.

However, he then revealed that this was something of a faзade as he, like the 2,000 or so Scottish fans who have made the journey to the Georgian capital, was full of nervous excitement.

“It’s the same for them as it is for me. I’ve always had this feeling of nervous excitement in my career before any game, especially big games and this is one of them,” said the Scotland coach.

Scotland sit third in the group with four games remaining and although Strachan said otherwise, and that this “could be a game of no consequence”, anything but victory for the Scots would mean they would almost certainly need to get something from their match with world champions Germany on September 7 in order to obtain an automatic berth.

Scottish captain, Celtic’s Scott Brown, also spoke to media and appeared upbeat and confident about Scotland’s chances.

“Every game is important and we want to win them all, of course. We know they have a new manager and maybe a new approach compared to when we last played them so we’ll see how they line up tomorrow,” said Brown.

Scotland’s fortunes have improved quite significantly since Strachan replaced Craig Levein at the start of 2013, and Brown spoke of a strength in depth in the Scottish squad that had not been seen for some years.

“In every position we have two or three quality players competing, many of whom are playing in the English Premier League which is a good position to be in”, added the visiting skipper.

There has been speculation about who will start at center forward for Scotland with Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher and Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths the two main candidates.

Brown, a current teammate of the latter and an ex-teammate of the former would not be drawn on his preferred choice but did describe what he perceives as the main strengths of each player.

“Leigh (Griffiths) likes to go in behind and that left foot is a wand, while Steven (Fletcher) is playing in the Premier League for a reason, he is a quality player who can hold the ball up and bring others in,” said Brown.

A crowd of around 25,000 is expected for the match with Georgian fans hoping for a repeat of 2007 when they overcame the Scots 2-0 thanks to goals from Levan Mchedlidze and David Siradze.

Mchedlidze is one of a handful of Georgian players to survive in the squad from that night, while the Scottish squad contains three starters from that fateful evening – Craig Gordon, Darren Fletcher and Shaun Maloney.

Nevertheless, when Strachan was asked by a Georgian journalist whether history might repeat itself, he gave a characteristically dry response.

“A lot’s changed since then. Who would’ve thought you’d have iWatches by now?”

Alastair Watt

03 September 2015 21:43