Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes reckons Scotland’s Euro 2020 opening qualifier against Kazakhstan is far from a straightforward proposition.
Alex McLeish’s side are hoping to get their campaign off to a flying start by taking maximum points in Astana tomorrow before facing San Marino on Sunday.
Kazakhstan may be ranked 117th in the world but Michal Bilek’s side have lost only one of their previous six home matches and the artificial surface at the Astana Arena will be an additional obstacles for the Scots to overcome.
McInnes knows only too well the challenges facing the Scots as the Dons were knocked out of the Europa League in 2015 by Kazakh side Kairat Almaty.
The Dons manager said: “I don’t think there is a simple or easy game in international football. When you factor in the travel and the varying temperatures and the rising performances of some of these teams, certainly from years gone by, has seen a lot of their football rise to a really good level.
“In saying that, we would like to think with the teams that we are facing that we can overcome those challenges and that can be the case.
“In terms of the country and infrastructure, Kazakhstan was fine and just like going to a European country with a bit of a Russian feel to it.
“The temperatures were well up when we were there but it will be cold just now and it is a bit similar in temperature to Russia.
“It was a Europa League match but I do remember outside our hotel there was a bus stop and it said 100 miles to China.
“It shows how far flung it is because there was a bus service to China.
“We stayed on British time because we had a game against Dundee United on the Sunday.
“Scotland have a similar situation with the game in San Marino on the Sunday.
“If we didn’t have a game on the Sunday then we might have gone on to local time.
“We felt staying on UK time was the right thing for us and the club looked after us by getting an aircraft that gave us more room and the benefit of sleep both ways and certainly coming back the way.”
The Scots already have the safety net of a Nations League play-off place should they fail to make it through their qualifying group, which also includes Belgium, Russia and Cyprus.
McLeish’s side will know anything less than two victories against the sides ranked bottom of Group I will leave them with an uphill task of earning one of the two automatic qualification spots.
But McInnes feels the national team should be heading into the campaign with confidence.
He added: “I think there is a bit more optimism about the young ones who are coming through and the way they have dealt with certain games and hopefully that can continue.
“There are fine lines in international results when it comes to getting those results.
“If our bigger players are available to Alex and if we are as strong as we can be then I see no reason why we can’t qualify.
“We all hope that will be the case.”