We have to show desire

Scotland coach Mark McGhee has urged the players to prove how serious they are about qualifying for a major finals by taking a sheer determination to succeed into every game.

Scotland helped banish any self-doubt that existed after their failure to reach the European Championship when they beat Malta 5-1 in their opening World Cup qualifier.

McGhee is convinced Scotland would have shone at the Euros had they qualified from a section that saw Germany, Poland and the Republic of Ireland beat them to France. Instead they had to watch the rest of the British Isles enjoy themselves.

The Scotland assistant manager feels now is the time for his team to back up their proclamations by taking a ruthless approach into their upcoming double header against Lithuania and Slovakia.

“It’s up to us to prove what we feel,” the Motherwell manager said.

“One of the things I felt very strongly, without talking about luck, (was that) we were unfortunate not to qualify for the last tournament because Wales, Republic and Northern Ireland and Iceland, and all these teams, showed what they can do when they got there. And I think it would have been no different for us, we could have gone there and really enjoyed it.

“What we have to do now is deal with each game, prove in every single game that we play.

“There’s a word that keeps coming to me, I think you have got to have, not just desire, but we have got to show how determined we all are in every single game, and approaching every single game how serious we are about winning every single game and about qualifying.

“There’s got to be a belief. The supporters on Saturday night have got to see an absolute determination from us all to win that game and to show how serious we are about qualifying.”

Lithuania showed they will be no pushovers when they drew 2-2 with Slovenia in their opening qualifier, having led by two goals up until the 73rd minute and been ahead going into added time.

Edgaras Jankauskas has set about changing their style of play since being installed as manager of his country in January, and McGhee feels the former Hearts striker has already transformed Lithuania into an attacking set-up.

McGhee said: “I don’t think they are necessarily going to come in and sit in against us. They are quite prepared to come and get at us a little bit.

“It will be a little bit more end to end than when you have seen teams come and just sit on the edge of their own 18-yard box and try and defend and hit you on the counter-attack.

“So patience, yes, because it can take a long time to get a goal, but I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be a game where we are playing possession football at the edge of their box. I expect it to be an exciting game.”

Scotland’s Euro 2016 campaign ultimately failed because they could not break down Georgia in Tbilisi so Lithuania’s approach could suit the Scots.

But McGhee said: “We’ve got to try and make it play into our hands. We also have to be vigilant because they are going to be attacking us, so we are going to have to defend as you would normally expect to defend against a team coming at you, rather than on the counter-attack, and, periodically, when we lose the ball, coming at us quickly.

“It’s going to be much more of a, if you like, British game than many of these games are.

“We have to defend when we are asked to but we have to prove we are better players and a better team.”

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