Former national boss Craig Brown is confident Russia 2018 will be the last time Scotland miss out on the World Cup finals.
The globe’s biggest football party is set to kick-off today when hosts Russia face Saudi Arabia.
Brown remains the last manager to lead Scotland out at a World Cup – France ’98, when they faced holders Brazil in a glamour tournament opener.
Two decades on the Scots have yet to qualify for another finals but Brown reckons the new breed of emerging Scottish talent can end that painful drought by qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Former Aberdeen boss Brown, now a non- executive director at Pittodrie, said: “When it comes to the next World Cup in 2022 I am very optimistic that Scotland will qualify.
“Scotland are in very good shape with a lot of impressive young players coming through.
“I also rate the manager Alex McLeish highly and he is bringing together a very useful squad.”
Scotland have failed to qualify for 10 tournaments (five Euros, five World Cups) since Brown led them to the World Cup finals in France.
Gordon Strachan left the Scotland managerial post following the failure to qualify for Russia.
Under Strachan the Scots also failed to reach Euro 2016 and were the only home nation not involved in the tournament.
Strachan’s replacement McLeish has given youth a chance in his first four friendly games in charge of the national team.
He handed a debut to Aberdeen centre-back Scott McKenna in his first game in charge.
McKenna has since started the last three internationals and captained the Scots in the 1-0 friendly loss to Mexico earlier this month at the Azteca Stadium.
Brown predicts a bright future for Scotland with emerging talent like McKenna being given their opportunity.
He said: “Scotland now have two young full-backs that are brilliant (Kieran Tierney – Celtic, Andy Robertson – Liverpool).
“There is also young McKenna who is outstanding.
“In midfield John McGinn (Hibs), and Alex McLeish likes Tom Cairney from Fulham.
“If Leigh Griffiths (Celtic) gets fit and Matt Phillips keeps improving as a striker we are getting a team that is better than we have had in recent times.”
Scotland begin the road to the Euro 2020 finals with the inaugural UEFA Nations League against Albania and Israel later this year.
McLeish’s first competitive match will come with a clash against Albania at home on September 10. The matches will be played home and away between September and November. It offers a second route to Euro 2020, with four places available via a play-off system.
Euro 2020 qualifying proper begins next year.
Brown said: “24 teams will qualify for Euro 2020 now when it used to be 16.
“Andy Roxburgh got us to the European championships in Sweden in ‘92 when there were just eight teams qualified. When I got us there in ‘96 it was 16 teams.
“Now there are 24 teams that qualify so it should be much easier as nearly half the teams qualify.”