McKenna – Boss Clarke has made Scotland hard to break down and we can get Euro 2020 qualifying result against Belgium


Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna is confident Scotland manager Steve Clarke’s organisation can frustrate the No 1 ranked side in the world.

Scotland will tonight face Group I leaders Belgium in a Euro 2020 qualifier in Brussels.

World Cup semi-finalists Belgium are top of the FIFA World rankings and boast global stars like Eden Hazard, who last week transferred from Chelsea to Real Madrid in a deal that could surpass £130 million.

Despite barely moving out of first gear, Belgium hammered a Scotland side managed by Alex McLeish 4-0 in a friendly at Hampden last September.

Under the guidance of McLeish’s successor Clarke, centre-back McKenna believes the Scots can make it difficult for the Belgians – and maybe sneak a shock result in Brussels.

The 22-year-old said: “All the pressure will be on Belgium as it will be up to them to come out and try to break us down.

“As Belgium are the No 1 team in the world at the moment we would expect them to have most of the ball.

“However, our manager says it’s all about staying in a shape and controlling where the opposition have possession.

“If we can do that it will hopefully make it difficult for Belgium.

“The manager has worked with us on the training pitch to see what shape we will get into and how he wants us to play.

“There might be a slightly different style of play because I know they are a very good team and we will respect them.

“However, the manager will make us harder to break down.

“And hopefully we will go on to get the result.”

The Scotland players train in the King Baudouin Stadium.

McKenna missed the heavy friendly loss to Belgium last year as he was sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained in the opening Premiership fixture, a 1-1 draw with Rangers.

Scotland will face the Belgians at the King Baudouin Stadium tonight buoyed by a 2-1 defeat of Cyprus in Clarke’s first match as new national boss.

It was a victory that kept alive hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020 via the traditional group stage phase without the need for the safety net of the Nations League play-offs secured under McLeish.

However, a debut win for Clarke appeared in jeopardy when the Cypriots equalised with three minutes remaining – until Oliver Burke scored a late winner.

McKenna said: “We showed real spirit and togetherness to score a massive late goal for the win.

“It was brilliant to see.

“As a defender you want to try to keep clean sheets. To concede from a set-piece when we had been up at their end for our own set-piece just a minute before was really disappointing.

“We made it a bit more nervy than it had to be by conceding that late goal.

“The main thing was the togetherness and spirit that we showed to get that winner.

“There was no panic and everyone around us was encouraging and we knew that if we kept going we could do it.

“We had created enough chances in the second half and there was still that belief that one of them would come.”

Scotland manager Steve Clarke issues instructions against Cyprus.

Clarke was appointed Scotland manager just days after Kilmarnock beat Aberdeen to third spot in the Premiership.

It was the first time the Rugby Park side had finished in the top three since 1966.

McKenna insists it took just three training sessions for Clarke to get his message and blueprint across to the squad.

He said: “The way Steve Clarke operated for Kilmarnock always impressed me and I have been even more impressed with the manager having worked with him over the last week.

“Within three sessions every single person knew exactly what the manager wanted from him.

“The instructions were very clear and that showed on the pitch against Cyprus as it was a very disciplined performance.

“He just trusts what we have done throughout the week and doesn’t give too much information on match day.

“The manager knows all his work is done and if the boys have listened, then we should be in a good position to go and win the game.”

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