Scotland get their bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup underway this week and a good start is crucial.
Austria are the national team’s first opponents at Hampden on Thursday and they have been boosted by their German-based players being allowed to travel.
Although that may be a bit of a blow for Scotland, I’m sure Steve Clarke will have been preparing to face Austria at their strongest.
Following the high of qualifying for the European Championships, the Scots have the chance to do the double and the Group F draw has been relatively favourable.
As well as Austria, Denmark, Israel, Moldova and the Faroe Islands are also in the section.
Although it’s not an easy group, it could have been a lot harder because there is no big gun like Germany, Belgium, France or Spain.
Denmark and Austria are the top two seeds, so to qualify Scotland will need to finish above them and it means the first game is very important.
I don’t think Clarke’s men can afford to lose it and, although there is no crowd, making the most of your home games is always important.
If Scotland could win against Austria, it would be a magnificent start to the group and make the Dark Blues serious contenders to qualify.
Scotland then take on Israel away from home on Sunday and having played them five times in the last two-and-a-half years, we know all about them.
It won’t be easy, but it’s another winnable game and starting with two victories before facing the Faroe Islands next Wednesday is exactly what you’re looking for.