Scotland v Belgium: Gordon Strachan looks for more progress

Interview - Scotland manager Gordon Strachan

Manager Gordon Strachan says Scotland face a "huge challenge" against Belgium but aims to test Friday's visitors to the full at Hampden Park.

Belgium lead their World Cup qualifying group and have a star-studded squad.

"We'll be as progressive as we can," said Strachan. "Looking for every opportunity to go forward, looking for our good players to take people on.

"When we lose the ball, we will have a good shape, which makes it difficult for great players to play."

He added: "That's what the fans can expect and that's what we are going to give them."

Belgium top Group A with 19 points from seven matches and beat Scotland 2-0 in Brussels last year.

Strachan was heartened by victory in Croatia in June and last month's friendly with England, when the visitors impressed for the first hour at Wembley before losing 3-2.

"If the belief in ourselves is the same as it has been in the last couple of games, it's a challenge, but it's a challenge that can be overcome," said Strachan.

"It's a huge challenge because I think they are one of the best international teams in the world right now.

"They have terrific players as individuals and they have been together for a long time as a group.

"It's not a huge group but the players they have in the group, the regulars, are terrific footballers."

Asked which of the Belgian players he admired, Strachan replied: "I love the power of [Christian] Benteke, I love the grace of [Eden] Hazard, I love the coolness of [Mousa] Dembele". He then joked: "And I love the height of [Marouane] Fellaini!"

Archive - Scotland 2-2 Belgium

Scotland sit second-bottom of the group and the prospect of reaching next year's World Cup finals fizzled out a long time ago.

But Strachan senses a positive mood among his players, following two encouraging displays.

"People talk about Churchillian speeches but I don't think they are really needed," the 56-year-old added.

"You should be self-motivated and excited playing for your country in front of 40,000.

"It will be disappointing if we don't keep the momentum going. I have a vision of how I want us to play, if the players keep to that and concentrate, the result will take care of itself.

"There are bits we like and bits we'd like to improve - like when we have the ball. We don't have the world's best international players, we have a group that are trying to get better.

"We have to brave on the ball - but not in silly areas - it's easier to defend than to take the game to your opponents.

"You have to be more proactive at home, that's what the fans would like to see.

"But the fans are not stupid they understand we are up against one of the best teams in the world."

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