Oct 14 2013
Gordon Strachan wishes he had Croatia boss Igor Stimac's yellow card "dilemma" ahead of Scotland's final 2014 World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.
The Croats' 2-1 home defeat to Belgium on Friday meant the highly-rated Red Devils qualified for the Brazil finals next summer as runaway winners of Group A with Stimac's side having to settle for a play-off place as runners-up.
However, Vedran Corluka, Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Niko Kranjcar, Nikica Jelavic, Gordon Schildenfeld, Ivan Strinic, Eduardo and Ognjen Vukojevic are all on yellow cards and will miss the first game of the play-off if they are cautioned against Scotland.
The Scotland boss, speaking at the Scots' Mar Hall Hotel base on the outskirts of Glasgow, was envious of his Croatia counterpart as he prepares to bring another failed qualifying campaign for the Scots to an end on a positive note.
He said: "That gives Igor a dilemma, to play them or not to play them - but I wouldn't mind that dilemma.
"But to be fair, if you look at their squad it is a strong squad.
"They can afford to leave two, three, four, five players out and I don't think it weakens them.
"I watched the game the other night and they changed their system from when we played them and their bench was good.
"They actually played very well in the first 20 minutes, they were unlucky to be a goal down."
Asked how he might handle the same situation, the former Scotland midfielder replied: "You would need to know the players, and how disciplined they are and trust them to make sure they don't get a booking.
"But in modern football you can pick up bookings for the least little thing so that would be a problem.
"But we are looking forward to the game and we wish Croatia all the best in the play-offs after it because they are a very good side.
"It just so happens that they have come up against a Belgium side that have some exceptional players at the moment."
After arriving in Glasgow on Monday, Stimac was quoted as saying the game would be a "kind of a training session" for his side but Strachan was nonplussed.
"He can have any comments he wants," he said. "I like Igor, a nice fella.
"I spent time with him in Poland (during the 2012 European Championships), I've known him since he was at Derby.
"It depends if he said training or experimenting. Experiment is completely different from training.
"I look forward to seeing him. He is a good man, he organises his team well and we wish him all the best in the play-offs."
Victories in Zagreb and away to Macedonia in their last qualifier injected confidence into the Scotland squad which has withstood defeats to England and Belgium in between.
Strachan claims a double over the Croats "would say that we are doing okay" but to do that he has to fashion Scotland's first home win of the campaign which requires his team to be more positive.
"Away from home we have done a lot of good things," he said.
"We have a couple of systems that the players can use and we will use them in the next qualifying campaign.
"We will have to change the system (against Croatia).
"Not by much, but there is more emphasis on us when we get the ball to be positive.
"We will have to be more on the front foot.
"There will be more onus on us and that could leave us a bit exposed at times but that's what you have to do as the home side.
"If you want to progress in tournaments, you have to try and win your home ties at least."