With Murray in the stands, Scotland aim to serve upset

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is attempting to mastermind a shock win over neighbours England in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.
Scotland manager Gordon Strachan is attempting to mastermind a shock win over neighbours England in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee says Andy Murray's rise to the top of the tennis world rankings can inspire their country to a famous victory against old rivals England.

The 29-year-old Murray, who has won Wimbledon and Olympic gold this year, is now widely regarded as one of Scotland's greatest-ever sportsmen.

Ahead of this Friday's World Cup qualifier against England at Wembley, McGhee, who serves as Gordon Strachan's assistant, was asked if Scotland's football players would be encouraged to emulate Murray's achievements.

"Even better than that, my understanding is that he is coming to the game," McGhee told reporters on Monday.

"For the players to know that he is up there and for the players to replicate some sort of the achievement that he has - I think every single one of us are huge Andy Murray fans and totally respect the achievement of what he has done for himself and the country.

"To emulate that in some way would be just fantastic."

Murray, a football fan, is the first British singles tennis player to be world No. 1 since the inception of the ATP rankings after his rise to top spot was confirmed over the weekend.

Scotland will need all the inspiration they can get against England as they fight to get back on track in the race to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A 1-1 home draw with Lithuania and a 3-0 defeat in Slovakia in their last qualifiers left Strachan's side languishing in fourth in Group F. Only the winners of each group will qualify automatically.

"Regardless of previous results, when this draw was made, that was the stand-out fixture," McGhee said of facing England. "I would imagine the players, and I know in particular the manager, want to give (the fans) something and a result against England would be perfect."

Left-backs Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney are out of the clash with injury but McGhee believes his squad have enough depth to get a positive result against Gareth Southgate's side.

He said: "We are obviously disappointed about Robbo and Kieran Tierney who are not here. But talking about left-backs, we have cover there and those guys will get their opportunities.

"Generally speaking, you look around and James Morrison is back playing and in form, Scott Brown is now back with us, James McArthur is scoring goals, Darren Fletcher is coming from a winning team - we have options in those areas.

"We are not disappointed with the strength of the squad. As we did in the last two games, we felt we had a squad who could cope with it and it is absolutely true that we still believe that to be true."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2016, with the headline 'With Murray in the stands, Scotland aim to serve upset'. Subscribe