GLASGOW: Scotland manager Steve Clarke has challenged his team to secure a memorable win over Russia on Friday as they chase a place at Euro 2020.
Scotland have three crucial games coming up in their chances of automatic qualification for the European Championships,
The visit of Russia is followed by a home game against Belgium on Monday and a trip to Moscow on October 10.
Clarke believes the clash with World Cup quarter-finalists Russia at Hampden Park offers a chance to prove his side are good enough to reach the tournament.
The former Chelsea defender took over in May with Scotland at a low ebb following their shock opening defeat in Kazakhstan.
Scotland have beaten the likes of Slovakia, Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland in recent campaigns and defeated Croatia home and away in 2013.
But the last time they took the scalp of one of the major football nations was in France in 2007.
When asked if Friday was a must-win game as Scotland look to close a three-point deficit on Russia, Clarke said: “Rather than put the pressure on to one game, over the course of the next three games we have to get enough points to make sure we are still in contention in the group.
“Whether it’s Friday or Monday or away to Russia, we need to get points, we are aware of that.
“We need a big win. As a country it’s been a long time since we turned over one of the so-called big boys.
“I think Russia, having been in the last eight of the World Cup, are one of the bigger teams.
“It’s about time that we, as a nation, rather than being on the receiving end, we are dishing out a result that’s deemed to be an upset. So hopefully on Friday night that can be the case.”
Clarke had called for Scotland fans to roar his team on when he named his squad and more than 35,000 had bought tickets ahead of the final 24 hours before kick-off.
But he knows they need to revive the interest of the wider public.
“Over a number of years we haven’t managed to reach a major finals,” said Clarke. “The more often that happens, the less people start to believe in it.
“So maybe one big result can change the mindset, not just of the squad but the whole nation. Hopefully it comes very, very soon.”