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Match Preview – Kazakhstan vs Scotland

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Watch Kazakhstan vs Scotland from 2.30pm on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Football; Kick-off at 3pm

Last Updated: 21/03/19 8:18pm

Kazakhstan vs Scotland - live on Sky Sports

Kazakhstan vs Scotland – live on Sky Sports

Scotland’s bid to qualify for their first major tournament since 1998 begins in Kazakhstan as the two teams clash in Thursday’s opening European Qualifier.

This will be the first meeting between Kazakhstan and Scotland on the international stage and will be played on an astroturf surface.

Kazakhstan finished bottom of their World Cup qualification ground, picking up just three draws from their 10 games. However, all those points came at home in matches against Poland, Romania and Armenia.

Having guaranteed a Euro 2020 play-off place thanks to last year’s UEFA Nations League performance where they won three of their four games, Scotland will be hoping that safety net can inspire them to automatic qualification in Group I.

It’s a collection of teams that includes Belgium and Russia, therefore no slip-ups can be afforded.

Midfielder Kenny McLean said: “We know Kazakhstan are going to have quality – it is going to be a tough game in tough conditions.

“The pitch isn’t ideal but it’s one we are looking forward to. We only come together so often so when we do come together we need to gel quickly and really hit the ground running.

“Getting off to a good start in the qualification campaign is massive.”

Team news

Scotland will be without skipper Andrew Robertson but the Liverpool full-back will join up with the team in San Marino on Friday.

He’s missing with a dental problem which required surgery. Kieran Tierney will also miss the match in Kazakhstan due to a groin problem while Callum Paterson and Ryan Fraser have not been sanctioned to play by their clubs due to the plastic pitch.

Jordan Archer, Barry Bannan and Charlie Mulgrew are also out injured which gives opportunities to Liam Kelly, Marc McNulty, John Fleck, Liam Palmer and Stuart Findlay to make their international debuts.

Stuart Armstrong and Scott McTominay are both included in the squad and are likely to feature in the opening game.

‪Callum McGregor will captain Scotland for the game in Nursultan. ‬

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Swansea City striker Oli McBurnie says he is glad to see Alex McLeish selecting players for the Scotland squad based on their club form

Swansea City striker Oli McBurnie says he is glad to see Alex McLeish selecting players for the Scotland squad based on their club form

Match stats

  • Scotland have won their last two matches (both in the Nations League) – they last won three competitive games in a row in October 2017.
  • Scotland have lost just one of their last 10 competitive matches (W7 D2 L1), losing to Israel in October 2018.
  • Alex McLeish won five of his eight EURO 2008 qualifiers in charge of Scotland, losing the other three. Scotland failed to qualify for the 2008 tournament, finishing third in their qualifying group behind Italy and France.
  • Kazakhstan are looking to win consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time since March 2016.
  • Scotland’s Ryan Fraser has been directly involved in four goals in his last two games for the national team (one goal, three assists), after failing to score or assist in his first four appearances.
  • James Forrest has scored five goals in his last two games for Scotland, after failing to net in his first 24 matches.
  • Oralkhan Omirtayev has scored in each of his last two games for Kazakhstan, netting the only goal of the game last time out versus Moldova.

Charlie’s prediction

Scotland always find the first set of games quite tough and feel instantly under pressure. Away from home against the lesser teams we always struggle. But I feel positive in how we do not have an out-and-out forward; Oliver McBurnie has struggled but I quite like him, Oliver Burke does not look a natural number nine and looks better playing with someone with his pace and power.

If you look at where Scotland will win this game, we have inexperienced goalkeepers, so Scott Bain has to play. We also have inexperienced defenders with no Robertson.

Armstrong, McGregor and John McGinn will be in midfield, so I am pretty confident.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: Kazakhstan 1-2 Scotland (8/1 with Sky Bet)

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