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Wales and Scotland in must-win Cardiff clash
Published : 12 Oct 2012 06:47:20Rss feed
Wales and Scotland have reputations to re-establish as well as vital 2014 World Cup qualifying points to gain in Friday's crunch Group A clash at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Both British nations have begun the campaigns on the long road to Brazil on a difficult footing to leave respective managers Chris Coleman and Craig Levein under pressure to deliver a result on Friday night.
Wales suffered a humiliating 6-1 win defeat to Serbia last time out on the back of a 2-0 loss to Belgium while Scotland produced below-par performances in home draws with the Serbians and Macedonia.
The consequence of the negative start means the Celtic showdown in the Welsh capital is a 'must-win' game for either side which is something that has not been lost on Welsh boss Coleman in the build-up.
"Fair enough, we've got to get a result against Scotland," admitted Coleman, who has yet to record a victory since taking over from the late Gary Speed last January.
"I've had four games since I've been in charge and we've lost four. It's a must-win game. But, hold on a minute, we had 10 pull outs (against Belgium) - people don't care about that. Seven missing against Serbia - no one has any interest in that.
'What about the result? You lost. You got smashed up in Serbia - six.' That's what people want to talk about.
"That's fine as that comes with the job. I'm a big enough boy. I'm now worried about what's around the corner.
"I'm excited going into the Scotland game, I love that atmosphere and there's so much on the game."
With Wales' confidence at a major low following the nightmare in Novi Sad, Coleman now wants to do things his own way, starting by axing Aaron Ramsey as skipper in preference of Swansea centre-back Ashley Williams.
Coleman, who hopes Gareth Bale will shake off a heel complaint to start, added: "The worst thing you can do when something is not going well is to do nothing. That would be a sin.
"The defeat against Serbia was a tough one and my lowest point as a manager. It was a horrible feeling.
"I want to taste victory as manager of my country because I've tasted defeat and I didn't like it. The best advice I got came from Jean Tigana years ago.
"He said no matter where you go as a manager, do not completely unpack your suitcase because you may not have the time.
"But, look, if you come after the Croatia game and we get six points then people will say we have a chance of qualifying.
"Of course, if we don't get anything and the teams above us win and draw then it could be eight points. Serbia and Belgium could even win both. It'd be a big gap for us."
Scotland counterpart Levein, who has lost Jordan Rhodes and Robert Snodgrass to injury, has also made a big call after settling his previous differences with Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher, who has scored five Premier League goals this season.
Levein said: "I'm really pleased to get him back. I felt it was the right thing to do."