National boss Steve Clarke is confident Scotland can handle the pressure to back up Euro 2020 qualification with Nations League glory.
The euphoria of the Scots’ historic Euro 2020 qualification success in Serbia has yet to dissipate within the Tartan Army.
Yet, in Israel tonight, Scotland will bid keep the feel-good factor going by winning the Nations League Group B2.
Clarke accepts triumphing in Belgrade was the big one, but he cannot stress enough the significance of topping the Nations League group.
Not only does it secure promotion to League One with Europe’s biggest nations, topping the group would also open up another potential route to World Cup 2022 qualification – if needed.
Clarke said: “We didn’t get the result we wanted against Slovakia, which puts a bit more pressure on the game in Israel.
“Every game comes with its own pressure when you are representing your country.
“My players have shown in recent matches they can handle the pressure and will have to do that again tonight.”
There is also the added edge of facing an Israel side desperate for revenge after their own Euro 2020 qualification hopes were dashed by Scotland in a play-off semi-final penalty shoot0out at Hampden last month.
Clarke insists victory tonight would be the first step for the Scots on the road to the World Cup 2022 finals in Qatar.
He said: “We spoke before about creating history.
“We’ve created that history.
“Now we need to move on to the next chapter
“The next step for us now is to concentrate on World Cup qualification and this can give us a platform.
“If we can win this group and get promotion to the A groups, it gives us a good chance, a back-up which we already know the benefit of.
“In December, the World Cup is drawn.
“I believe we are in pot three, which is a little bit of progress.
“We have gone from Nations League C to Nations League B, one step away from Nations League A. That’s progress.
“We want to keep progressing so we can’t rest on your laurels.
“You can’t rest on what you’ve done.”
For the first time in a generation, there is real momentum behind a young Scotland side who have shown they can deliver when it matters.
Clarke believes for too long Scotland had been static and were left trailing behind other international sides. No more.
He said: “In football, you have to keep progressing.
“Maybe as a nation we were guilty of standing still too long – and everyone went past us.
“That is what happened over the last 20 odd years and we don’t want that to happen to us.
“We are in a position now where we can catch up, we are trying to catch up.
“We don’t want to lose that momentum.”
Asked how Scotland stood still, Clarke said: “We stopped qualifying for tournaments.
“It has taken us a long time to get back to qualifying.
“We don’t want to wait as long for the next one.
“In fact I don’t want to wait very long at all.
“I want to qualify for Qatar 2022 and so do the players.”
Ultimately, such is the forward propulsion of the Scotland squad, Clarke hopes he will not have to rely on the World Cup play-off by-product of winning the Nations League group.
Promotion to League A will bring exciting games against the big guns – but he aims to also secure for Qatar 2022 via the traditional qualification rout.
The World Cup qualification campaign begins in March, with the draw made in December.
He said: “This has to be the start of something. It has to be.
“The Euros are there, I have told the players the Euros are in a cupboard.
“Now we forget about the Euros until April.
“We need to have a good start in the World Cup qualifying.
“Obviously a nice favourable draw in December would be great.
“But then we have three World Cup matches in March, so we can’t get ahead of ourselves.
“The World Cup is the next target.”