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Steve Clarke puts Scotland’s winning habit down to the experience of his players

Scotland v Israel – FIFA World Cup 2022 – European Qualifying – Group F – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Scotland manager Steve Clarke believes his side have developed a winning habit through experience.

Clarke hopes the belief gained from their four-match winning run will see them over the line in Moldova.

Scotland will guarantee a World Cup play-off place if they win in Chisinau on Friday.

Steve Clarke

Steve Clarke believes Scotland have developed a winning habit (Tim Goode/PA)

The crunch game comes a year after Scotland also completed a five-match winning run when they beat Serbia to reach the Euro 2020 finals.

And Clarke feels Scotland have taken their results-minded trait further since then, having scored late winners against both Israel and the Faroe Islands last month.

When asked what they had improved over the past year, Clarke said: “The ability to win matches that maybe we would have drawn in the past, and maybe we would have lost matches that we turned into draws.

“Overall it’s just been a much better campaign. We got criticised earlier in the group for dropping some points. We found a way to make that up later in the group.

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“We have to jump from being a third-seeded team to get above the second-seeded team and, without getting ahead of ourselves because we still have to secure a play-off spot, the team has improved. The understanding of what you have to do to win matches at this level has improved.

“I always said that would improve gradually by the number of caps that you pick up. We have more players that are more experienced at this level.

“And when you start to get results against some of the better teams, then you start to believe in yourselves a little bit more. That belief can turn a draw into a win, which is probably what happened in the last two games.”

Clarke is well aware that Moldova can cause problems. The home side started Group F with an 8-0 defeat in Denmark and only have one point but they surprised the Scotland boss during their 1-0 defeat in September.

“They actually surprised me a little bit at Hampden,” Clarke said. “They were quite progressive, wanting to be on the front foot when they had the chance to go forward, and they went forward in numbers. Obviously always with a good defensive block, they defended well against us. Albeit we did create enough chances to maybe have a more comfortable night.

“They suffered early in the campaign with a big reverse against Denmark but gradually the games have become more competitive. They went to Israel and only lost 2-1, and we know how tough a place that is to go to make it a proper game, and it was a proper game.”