Buoyed by their win over Iceland, Scotland face Canada at Easter Road tonight seeking not only to double their tally of victories during the Berti Vogts era but also to improve upon a wretched record in home friendly matches.
In 11 such fixtures during the past decade, stretching back beyond Craig Brown's stewardship to that of Andy Roxburgh, Scotland have won just once. Ally McCoist's goal overcame Australia at Hampden Park six and a half years ago, but two draws with Finland are otherwise the only respite from a sorry sequence of defeats.
Canada should, in theory, be ideal opponents for Vogts as he strives to build on Saturday's success, which also brought the first clean sheet in his seven matches. Scotland have won all five meetings between the two countries, amassing 14 goals while conceding one, and there was an aggressive unity about their approach in Reykjavik.
Nothing, however, is ever that straightforward where Scotland are concerned. Canada's position of 70th in Fifa's world rankings puts them a mere seven places behind the Scots, and their coach, Holger Osieck, has a good pedigree. A friend and compatriot of Vogts, he was assistant to Franz Beckenbauer when West Germany won the World Cup in 1990.
Vogts, moreover, has lost his entire central-midfield unit of Paul Lambert, Barry Ferguson and Jackie McNamara to injury. Since the first two are captain and vice-captain respectively, Christian Dailly will don the armband, while the uncapped 30-year-old Paul Devlin, a Brummie with a Glaswegian father, is set to link up with Scot Gemmill and Scott Severin in the engine room.
Dailly led the side in the Far East tour during the summer and is both the most-capped player left in the squad with 38 and its top scorer with four goals. Yet there is also a symbolic element to his appointment, Vogts having been impressed by the defender's "strength of character" in responding to his criticism after the draw in the Faroe Islands.
The back three and front two should be unchanged, but Paul Gallacher, 23, will win his second cap in goal. Two Canadians, Paul Fenwick and Kevin McKenna, may be more familiar to fans in the capital than the likes of Devlin and Gallacher as they play for Hibs and Hearts.
Meanwhile, the presence of Tomasz Radzinski, Canada's quicksilver Everton striker, underlines the danger of any post-Iceland complacency.
SCOTLAND (3-5-2, probable): Gallacher (Dundee United); Dailly (West Ham), Pressley (Hearts), Wilkie (Dundee); Anderson (Aberdeen), Devlin (Birmingham), Gemmill (Everton), Severin (Hearts), Naysmith (Everton); Thompson (Dundee United), Crawford (Dunfermline).Reuse content