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World Cup qualifier preview: Scotland v Macedonia

by Aidan Elder | September 9, 2012

NAI’ ROOM FOR ERROR – Naismith and Scotland need a win at home to Macedonia (pic: Inpho)

By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer

Scotland v Macedonia

Hampden Park – Tuesday 8pm, Sky Sports 1

Frustration is a bad thing. Be it of the sexual, professional or sporting variety, it’s something we’re programmed to try and avoid as much as possible. In a bizarre kind of ‘glass half full’ way however, the frustration Scottish fans experienced on Saturday afternoon was good.

It was a sign of progress from Levein’s Scotland. Maybe not progress at the speed the Tartan Army would like, but there was a time when they would have found a way to come out the wrong side of a tight game like the encounter with Serbia.

There were positives. In a game of few gilt-edged chances, the hosts had more of them and have right to be the team more grumpy about settling for a point. It does however give Scotland little margin for error, particularly at home. After Macedonia come to town, the Scots will have played two of their five home qualifiers and with Belgium, Croatia and Wales still due in Glasgow, Scotland can’t make too many assumptions about their points haul form those games. Four points from two games is essential or the campaign will already be in serious trouble.

It will be a tricky evening, because the team 97th in the world have developed a streak of stubbornness. Macedonia don’t win very often, but they are much harder to beat than they once were and more evidence of that came on Friday night when a strong Croatia team claimed a narrow 1-0 win in Zagreb. They lost six times in their bid to qualify for the last European Championships, but four of those defeats where by the minimum margin of a single goal.

Those stats suggest presuming it’ll be a simple win for Scotland is dangerous. But they also don’t take away from the fact Craig Levein will be under serious pressure if they fail to pick up all three points. The hosts are 8/11 favourites and fully expected to win.

The ‘I dont like making predictions’ prediction: Scotland to win by exactly one goal @ 23/10

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