Gordon Strachan 'excited' ahead of Scotland's World Cup qualifier in Malta

Gordon Strachan the Scotland football manager
Image: Gordon Strachan is feeling upbeat ahead of Scotland opening World Cup qualifier in Malta on Sunday

Gordon Strachan was in an upbeat mood ahead of Scotland's opening World Cup qualifier against Malta on Sunday.

He admits he is looking forward to the match at the Ta'Qali Stadium, and paid tribute to Scotland's fans who have made the journey to support them.

The Scotland manager said: "I get optimism from the staff and the players especially, but the fans have been absolutely brilliant.

"We have taken our allocation of 4,500 and 12,500 stood in the pouring rain against Gibraltar (Euro Qualifiers) congratulating the players on their efforts.

I have been excited for a while, the last couple of weeks, and it's built up even more since we met up on Tuesday.
Gordon Strachan

"When you add that together, it's really quite positive. I have been excited for a while, the last couple of weeks, and it's built up even more since we met up on Tuesday. Working with good players and good professionals helps that.

"You have to fit the system, you have to bring ability, you have to bring positivity to the group, playing or not playing, just like Lee Wallace did this week.

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"He was injured when he came along but he was positive, he helped us. He didn't drain us in any way."

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And Scotland captain Darren Fletcher also hailed the team's support: "There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

"I know the fans will be. We've got nearly 5,000 coming here and they always get behind the players.

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"Their support is really appreciated because they have had a lot of disappointment over the years and to keep turning up in the numbers they do and keep that support for the players on the pitch is great.

"I've been in the squad a long time and never heard boos. It makes it extra special and we urge them to stick with us because they'll be vitally important if we do want to qualify."

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Scotland, who last qualified for a major tournament in 1998, will not be taking the Maltese lightly, with Strachan adding that their FIFA World Ranking of 176 is incorrect.

He said: "I don't know where the rankings come from. That's a nonsense. I don't know what computer works it out but I would take it back and get it fixed.

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"We have watched their games against top sides and the players realise it will be a right hard game.

"I actually think that most people that know anything about football, and I mean anything, they realise this will not be easy."

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