Andy Robertson has called on Scotland to approach tomorrow’s win-or-bust World Cup qualifier away to Slovenia with the same unwavering focus that helped them defeat Slovakia in Thursday’s similarly high-stakes encounter.
Gordon Strachan’s side know that a victory in Ljubljana could earn them a crack at next month’s play-offs as they bid to keep alive their hopes of making it to next summer’s finals in Russia and end a 20-year exile from major competition finals which stretches back to the 1998 World Cup in France.
While the pressure is on Scotland to deliver after hauling themselves into second place in Group F with a run of 13 points from their last five qualifiers, Robertson insists they have already shown they are equipped to handle it after holding their nerve before scoring a decisive 89th-minute goal in Thursday’s must-win match against Slovakia.
The Liverpool left-back described this October double-header as a pair of cup finals and believes that the mental strength they showed to eke out victory when the heat was on at Hampden can serve them well tomorrow in what has become one of Scotland’s most significant matches of the modern era.
“It will be heart-in-mouth stuff but the whole nation will be behind us,” said Robertson.
“We have done everything we can up to this point and now we are right in the mix. It is a kind of similar pressure to the Slovakia game.
“We knew this game wouldn’t matter unless we beat Slovakia. We always knew we needed six points and nobody hid away from that fact.
“We are not at the start of the campaign where you might be able to drop points and it doesn’t really matter. It was two cup finals and we know we need to win them both.
“I am sure the Tartan Army will be over in great numbers and, if we can perform like we have done in the last couple of games, then it will hopefully get us through the group.”
While excitement abounds among the Tartan Army after a run of four wins and a draw at the business end of the campaign, Robertson knows the players must not take victory over a deflated Slovenia side for granted.
“Our draw was against England, which everyone would have taken at the start of that game,” he said of the one game in which Scotland have dropped points in 2017.
“We are on a good run but we still have the last game and it is not finished yet. Nobody can get ahead of themselves and we need to keep everybody’s feet on the ground.
“If we can do that, we can go in full of belief.”
Robertson, who expects to be fit despite suffering a wrist injury on Thursday, explained that belief levels are soaring within a Scotland side whose World Cup qualification bid has been aided by several crucial late goals such as the one scored on Thursday. He feels this bodes well if tomorrow’s match is delicately poised towards the end.
“We do believe,” said Robertson.
“We scored late goals against England and against Slovenia and Lithuania. We have scored a lot of late goals. We also know we are a good team and we go right to the end. Everyone knows that about us now.”
If Scotland are held to a draw tomorrow, they could only finish second in Group F in the event that Slovakia fail to win at home to Malta. Even then, a draw would diminish the Scots’ prospects of being among the eight best runners-up.