Russell Martin believes that Scotland are better off with an underdog status when it comes to the World Cup 2018 qualification campaign. Scotland were one of the home nations to miss out on the Euro 2016 final tournament.
Despite having a top manager like Gordon Strachan, the team was unable to make it through whereas the likes of Wales and Northern Ireland featured in this major tournament. As a result, there is a lot of pressure on Scotland to qualify for the World Cup 2018. The more number of teams taking part in this tournament does give them a great chance, but Martin says that Scotland should approach games with an underdog feeling.
Strachan’s team are in the group containing England and Slovakia. Both these teams are expected to be the favourite when it comes to fighting for qualification. Only the top two teams will be able to qualify for the World Cup. In fact, even the runners up in the group will have to go through a play-off in order to determine their participation in the final. England are the overwhelming favourites to top the group despite undergoing a managerial change. Scotland, though, will be relishing their underdog status according to Martin, who saw the team secure an impressive 5-1 win over minnows Malta in the opening group match.
“People don’t expect us to be there, but we’re better like that, when people don’t expect it. It’s a group where people will take points off each other, so I don’t think there will be one runaway leader. People will say England are expected [to win the group] because they’ve been so strong in qualifying over the last few years, but it’s a strong group. We need to pick up points consistently. It’ll be tough, but we just need to make sure that we’re in and about it and in 18 months time in with a chance of doing it,” said Martin.