Billy Dodds hopes Scotland can better his bittersweet memories of facing Belgium when the two sides meet tonight.
Former Aberdeen and Rangers striker Dodds netted two of his seven international goals against Belgium in a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup, only for Marc Wilmots and Daniel van Buyten to net and deny Scotland a victory at Hampden Park.
The result was a blow to the country’s hopes of reaching the finals, held in Japan and South Korea, as Scotland finished just two points behind the Belgians, who qualified for the tournament through the play-offs.
Dodds also played in a 2-0 defeat in Brussels in Craig Brown’s penultimate game in charge, which officially ended their chances of making back-to-back World Cups.
Alex McLeish’s side face the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists on Friday night at Hampden Park as a warm-up for their first Uefa Nations League game against Albania, which takes place on Monday. Avoiding defeat would be a boost for the Scots, according to Dodds, whose big night was spoiled by van Buyten’s late equaliser.
Dodds said: “It was bittersweet for me. It was probably the best game I played for Scotland. I was never a selfish player but I would have got the headlines when we were up 2-0. But they pulled one back and big Daniel van Buyten scored in the last minute. That was the one that probably put us out of the Championship at the time.
“They were a decent unit back then but probably a top-half team in the world. There’s no doubt they’re a top team now – they proved that in the World Cup and were unlucky against France. If we get a draw against Belgium it would be an unbelievably good results. Just don’t get thumped. If we have aspirations to start qualifying for tournaments then we have to be beating Albania.
“Momentum has to be built up in these two games. I don’t think Belgium will be at full throttle but as much as Albania will be the more important game, you don’t want to take a 4-0 or 5-0 going into that.”
The Dons will be represented by club captain Graeme Shinnie in the squad, with Scott McKenna, who made his debut earlier in the year against Costa Rica and captained the national side against Mexico, ruled out with a hamstring injury.