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10 years of hurt – Gordon uses painful Scotland memories as a spur

Craig Gordon

Craig Gordon has not conceded a goal in his past three qualifying games

Scotland keeper Craig Gordon says missing out on Euro 2008 a decade ago will spur him on as the team seek the win over Slovenia that would ensure a World Cup play-off.

Gordon was part of Alex McLeish’s side beaten by Italy at Hampden in 2007 and Scotland have not been at a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

“I thought there might be many more opportunities to come at that stage – but there haven’t been,” he said.

“It is a big moment to try and grasp.”

Scotland now know victory in Ljubljana on Sunday (17:00 BST kick-off) will guarantee them second place in Group F and, crucially, that they would be one of the eight best group runners-up.

“At 34, nearly 35, it is something that might not come again,” added Celtic’s Gordon.

“Hopefully we can all play as if it is our last opportunity and try and grab it.”

Chris Martin celebrates scoring for Scotland against Slovenia<!–

Chris Martin’s 88th-minute winner against Slovenia sparked Scotland’s resurgence

A 1-0 win over Slovenia at Hampden in March, courtesy of a late Chris Martin goal, was the start of Scotland’s five-game unbeaten run.

“That was a big moment in the group for us,” acknowledged Gordon, who has kept a clean sheet in four of those games, including the past three.

“If that didn’t happen and we only got a draw, we probably wouldn’t be sitting here now and hoping to get a play-off place. That gave us a lot of confidence and we have gone on a good run from there.

“We are in a good place, especially after the start of the campaign. It is up to us now to try to get one more win. We have done well over the last four or five games to put ourselves in this position, and now we have to make that final jump and get the points to make sure we do it.”

‘Confidence is as high as it possibly could be’

Scotland kept their World Cup qualifying hopes alive in dramatic fashion on Thursday as a late Martin Skrtel own goal gave them victory over 10-man Slovakia at Hampden Park.

Far from trying to shut out the excitement surrounding the national team’s late surge to the brink of a play-off place, Gordon says the squad should relish it.

“We are actually happy we are in this situation we have got ourselves in – it is not something we should burden ourselves with,” he added.

“It is great to be involved in this and have this opportunity. We have earned it. No matter how we started, we are finishing well.

“We are on a great run. Confidence is as high as it possibly could be.”

Slovenia, although virtually out of play-off contention, have not conceded a goal at home during qualifying and Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has said his side face a “hard, hard job”.

Gordon added: “We are up against a good team and we have to pay attention to that. They have got dangerous players that can hurt us.

“We have still got a very big task. I think everybody is thinking it is maybe going to be easy, but it isn’t.

“They have got one of the best goalkeepers in the world and a mean defence. We are going to have to really play well, create chances – and hopefully take one.”

World Cup qualifying Group F<!–

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