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Steve Clarke: Forget a draw, Scotland are going for the win against Denmark

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.
Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke will urge his players to go for victory as they bid to book a seeded place in the World Cup play-offs.

The national team qualified for the play-offs with a 2-0 win in Moldova on Friday but need to get a result against Group F winners Denmark at Hampden on Monday to be sure of being among the six seeded nations for the play-off semi-final.

A draw might be enough but a win will guarantee Scotland are seeded for the draw later this month and Clarke is determined to leave nothing to chance.

He said: “I think a point will be enough, but we don’t know so it’s better just to win.

“It’s what I said to the boys the other night when we went to Moldova. There was a scenario where, even if we’d lost in Moldova, we could still qualify with the points total we had, whether it was a defeat or a draw.

“But I said to the lads, ‘it’s much easier if we win because then we know exactly what’s happening.’

“It will be the same on Monday night. If we can beat Denmark, we know for sure we get the seeding. If we get the point, I’m pretty certain that will be enough to be seeded. So why not finish the campaign in a good way? That’s our aim.”

High intensity training produces high intensity performances

With 20 points from nine qualifying matches so far Scotland are becoming used to not just playing in high-stakes occasions but rising to them and the national team boss is eager to see that trend continue.

Clarke, who has called up Celtic’s Anthony Ralston to the squad, said: “It’s something we try to work on. We demand high standards. We want them to focus all the time. The training sessions are good.

“You guys only get to see the little bit at the start where they are low key and they are doing their warm-up, messing around in the little boxes, as they love to do.

Anthony Ralston (centre) trained with his Scotland team-mates at Hampden

“But in the actual training session, the intensity is good. The concentration is good and, when you work and train like that, you take it to a match.

“When you take it to a match, you tend to get over the line a little bit better than if you messed around in training. How you train is how you play. We work on that a lot.”

While Scotland have been very good, visitors Denmark have been close to flawless after arriving in Glasgow looking for a win which will give them a perfect qualification record of 30 points from 10 games.

Klaement Olsen of the Faroe Islands had the honour of becoming the first opposition player to score against Denmark in the campaign when he netted in the 89th minute of Friday’s 3-1 win for the Danes in Copenhagen.

The Scotland boss knows the Danes, despite having booked their place in Qatar, will be keen to end their campaign on a winning note.

He said: “With any group of players you are always looking for a target – something that’s achievable.

“They will be looking at this thinking ‘come on, we are almost there so let’s go through the section with the perfect record.’

“They probably wanted to do it with 30 points and no goals conceded. Now they’ve conceded the other night against the Faroes but they’ll definitely want the 30 points.

“They will want those 10 victories. It’s a great way to go into any tournament and they’ll feel good about themselves if they can do that.

“They’ll come here to a full house. Professional players like to play in front of big crowds in good atmospheres. I’m sure they will be bang at it.”

Clarke looking for more signs of progress against Denmark

Clarke is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing his side but he believes his players can draw inspiration from Kasper Hjulmand’s side.

The Scotland boss said: “They have a very good system that brings players through.

“A lot of talented players playing all across Europe in the top leagues. Talented is something we have to aspire to be.

“Of course we would love to be a No.1 seeded country, but before we get to being a No.1 seed, we have to be a No.2 seed. We have to move from three to two.

“We’ve managed to turn over Austria, the second seeds in this group. Now we have to try to continue that progress so that we become a No.2 seed in the next qualification.

“It doesn’t make it easier but it probably makes it slightly less problematic than it could be if you are seeded third or fourth. I’m just looking for progression all the time.

“I feel it’s a group, a squad of players, that is progressing. We should be thankful for that but not get too carried away and keep looking to progress.”