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Strachan: We know how important this is to everybody

The Scotland boss says his side are mentally ready to reach the play-offs.

Excitement: Strachan says players can handle the spotlight.
Excitement: Strachan says players can handle the spotlight. SNS Group

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan says his players are aware of the excitement around their World Cup date with Slovenia and can embrace the "frenzy" as they look to book a play-off place.

Belgium's win over Bosnia on Saturday means that if Scotland win in Ljubljana on Sunday evening then they will be guaranteed a place in the play-offs to reach Russia 2018.

Strachan said he couldn't, and wouldn't, shelter his players from the attention but doesn't believe they will be fazed as they concentrate on continuing a strong run of form to achieve their aims.

"We went through the airport and they are telling us it's going to be a big night," he said.

"Anywhere where we have gone over the last couple of days, as a group or as individuals, we know how important it is to everybody. We know how important it is to everybody because we are all getting texts from our friends wishing us good luck, emails from people we have not heard from in a wee while. We know that.

"I just think these players are used to it. It's a big game. I don't shield them from anything. They can enjoy the media frenzy, they can enjoy the excitement of other people, there is no problem with that."

A poor start to qualification, where the side only took four points from their first four matches, has been turned around completely with a five match unbeaten run being completed with a late winner against Slovakia at Hampden on Thursday. Strachan praised his players for their approach throughout good times and bad and said their composure was evident in their last game.

"They have had a balance," he said. "Whether they have taken body blows or given body blows, you couldn't tell the difference in our camp.

"You can never envisage how the game is going to go. I couldn't think there was going to be an 89th-minute winner the other night.

"What we do know from over the past year is that physically we are alright. Certainly there are at least three teams that are physically stronger than us in this group.

"But we know we have the power to keep running and the mental strength to keep doing what we want to do. The other night there, it would have been easy to go gung-ho and throw everything up front, but the players kept plugging away at what they thought was the best way to win the match.

"Not what everyone thought in the stadium or what everyone thought watching the telly, it's what they thought was the best. We leave it to them to work out problems sometimes."

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