Scotland are in pole position to secure a World Cup play-off place – now it’s time to finish the job.
Israel are the opposition at Hampden tomorrow before Tuesday’s trip to the Faroe Islands.
Two wins from this double header and victory over Moldova next month will be enough to secure a play-off spot.
These games won’t be easy, but when it comes to earning the play-off spot Steve Clarke’s men couldn’t really ask for a much better chance.
It’s three very winnable matches and for once it’s all in Scotland’s hands.
We don’t need to worry about other results – three wins will do it for the Dark Blues.
They have performed well in recent games to get into this position and now it’s time to make the most of this opportunity.
Going to Austria and winning in the last international break was a great result and it shows what this team is capable of.
Experience can help
There’s no doubt in my mind this Scotland team is capable of qualifying for next year’s finals in Qatar.
Reaching the European Championships in the summer showed the Scots can qualify and, although we were knocked out in the group stage, everyone involved will have gained valuable experience of what it takes to reach a major tournament.
That can only help in this situation.
Reaching the World Cup would be great for Scottish football and for the country as a whole.
We saw the lift qualifying for the Euros gave the nation and the impact of returning to football’s greatest stage for the first time since 1998 would be even bigger.
I was part of the 1978 World Cup squad and the anticipation and excitement ahead of the tournament was incredible.
Although things didn’t go as we wanted in Argentina, getting knocked out in the group, for a five or six-week period the feeling in the country was amazing.
Scotland have a team again that can get results and generate excitement.
One area where our options are slightly limited is in the striking department.
Neither Lyndon Dykes nor Che Adams have been particularly prolific thus far for Scotland.
However, when they play up front together they have the makings of a decent partnership which should continue to blossom.
With the midfielders in the Scotland squad such as John McGinn and Ryan Christie, who are capable of getting forward and scoring regularly, there isn’t the same burden or reliance on Dykes or Adams.
The national team can’t just rely on one player to deliver goals, they have to come from across the team.
In the next two games against Israel and the Faroe Islands it won’t matter who finds the net as long as Scotland do enough to win both games.
Dons defensive woes can’t continue
Aberdeen’s winless run is now nine games and defensively the Dons continue to struggle.
Stephen Glass and his coaching staff will be working hard during the international break to try to find a solution, having gone 12 games without keeping a clean sheet.
Declan Gallagher hasn’t really featured so far and, given his performances for Scotland, it looked as if he could be a rock at the heart of the defence.
David Bates has recently arrived and has been playing, but the back four doesn’t look particularly settled yet.
There’s no doubt Andy Considine has been a miss since he got injured in August.
He was a calming influence who could help guide those around him and has been consistent in terms of his performance levels.
Defensive mistakes are costing the Dons just now. Against Celtic, the Reds were the better side in the second half and should have taken something from the game.
Unfortunately they fell asleep for a moment at the back and were punished.
When you’re on a bad run, these lapses hurt you and that’s proven to be the case.
You could also argue Aberdeen should have taken something from the defeats against St Johnstone and St Mirren.
Things don’t get any easier after the international break with games against Dundee, Hibs, Rangers, Hearts and Motherwell.
The Dons need to end the poor run they are on and it might take a bit of luck to do it – but it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
It’s 10 years since Jim McInally was appointed Peterhead manager and over that period he’s done a fine job at Balmoor.
Given the way football is today, it’s very rare for managers to spend so long at one club.
Bosses can be under pressure after 10 weeks in the job so for McInally to be with the Blue Toon for a decade is a great achievement.
He’s still got plenty more to offer in the dugout and will hopefully enjoy a few more good years with Peterhead.