Alex McLeish wants Scotland to play a smart game in Israel tonight and take a big step towards the Nations League play-offs.
The Scots will bid to make it two wins out of two in Uefa’s new competition which has, as its ultimate goal, a prized place in the European Championships.
Having already seen off Albania at Hampden in the opening tie, McLeish’s men know that succeed in the Middle East and they will be odds-on to finish top of Group C-1, thus staying in the mix for one of the extra spots at Euro 2020.
“It is a big chance,” said the manager.
“Yeah, we know the rewards of this particular game.
“The other teams will be thinking they’ve got a great chance as well because we are bracketed at the same kind of level.
“We had a good result in the first one against Albania.
“We don’t go into this game thinking it is going to be easy, though.
“We have to give the opposition respect and the way we do that is by being at our top level performance-wise.
“There has always been a mental factor to football when you go away from home.
“I can remember with the Aberdeen team how we grew up and finally won at Celtic Park and finally won at Ibrox.
“There was a very long time when we just couldn’t win at these places.
“A lot of it was down to mentality.
“Young players have to be allowed to make mistakes but, unfortunately at international level, making mistakes is devastating.
“We saw that with the simple ones we made in the Belgium game. You don’t need to give a team like Belgium those chances.
“So it’s about getting the mentality to play and say: ‘Right, I can smell danger here. I’m going to be in the right position.’
“You have to be proactive and clever.”
As part of as part of his preparation, McLeish has sounded out Michael O’Neill after his Northern Ireland side beat tonight’s opposition 3-0 in a Belfast friendly last month.
He said: “I watched Israel’s game against Northern Ireland and, although they did lose heavily, they actually played some good stuff in the game.
“I spoke to Michael again last week. We have had good collaboration.
“I do think, though, as the home team Israel will be a different side from what they were in Belfast.”
McLeish has experience of playing in the Holy Land, having been at the heart of the defence in the 1-0 win back on February 25, 1981. A Kenny Dalglish winner saw Jock Stein’s side through that World Cup qualifier.
The Aberdeen legend recalled: “That was a tough game.
“We had some great players in the team, too.
“I started with Kenny Burns and Willie (Miller) was on the bench.
“We were run ragged in the first half and somehow go in at half-time at 0-0.
“Jock changed it for the second half and Willie came in beside me.
“We were a bit more stable and Kenny got the winner.”
Just as it must have been hard for Stein to leave Miller out of that game, so McLeish has a big selection headache tonight.
Celtic’s James Forrest banged four goals past St Johnstone on Sunday yet isn’t expected to make the starting line-up in the Sammy Ofer Stadium after being an unused substitute against the Albanians.
McLeish said: “It’s great that James scored four goals because we want players in top form coming to the international team.
“He turned up on Monday cock-a-hoop and his confidence must be sky high. That gives us food for thought.
“When I was out of the team, I was always disappointed but the gauntlet was thrown down.
“I spoke with James very briefly after the Albania game and I could see he was upset and desperate to play.
“I can’t ask for more than that. It’s hard to guarantee anyone a game.”