SCOTLAND will face familiar opponents in March's Euro 2020 play-offs after being paired alongside Israel in the semi-finals.

A final, one-off match against the winners of Norway and Serbia will then determine which side will ultimately progress to the Euros, with Scotland being drawn as the away side for the play-off final.

Scotland and Israel met during last year's Nations League campaign, where Scotland went on to top the group under Alex McLeish's guidance.

The national side lost 2-1 to the Israelis in Haifa but secured a 3-2 win at Hampden thanks to the heroics of James Forrest at one end – the Celtic winger scored all three goals – and Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor at the other, who pulled off a fantastic stop to deny an equaliser for the visitors right at the death.


READ MORE: Scotland drawn against Israel in Euro 2020 play-off semi-final

And while there has been a change in the Hampden dugout since that campaign, new manager Steve Clarke is confident that his players will be adequately prepared for the challenge that awaits them next spring – and called for his charges to believe they can end the country's 21-year wait for an appearance at a major finals.

"We are looking forward to the home semi-final against Israel in what is a hugely exciting challenge for us with a massive reward," said Clarke. "The players know Israel well having faced them in the Nations League.

"It was a tough match over there but we showed our capabilities with a good win at Hampden last year.

“This is the time to believe. We have just finished what was a difficult campaign, having experienced a turbulent few years for players, fans and managers alike.

"It’s now time to channel the positivity following our recent results and focus on the semi-final in March first and foremost."

While Scotland's qualifying campaign never fully recovered from the disastrous 3-0 defeat away to Kazakhstan in their opening Group I fixture, Clarke's side finished the campaign on a high note with three successive victories over San Marino, Cyprus and Kazakhstan.

It is these green shoots of recovery that lead Clarke to believe Scotland have what it takes to progress to next summer's finals.

“We have three wins in a row and the benefit of momentum," he added. "We need to channel that positivity and focus on the many attributes we have.


READ MORE: "Ryan Jack can keep star Premier League trio out of the Scotland side - if he maintains Rangers form"

"To have more than 50,000 people cheering us on at Hampden for the semi-final and the whole country watching at home is something that really excites me and will only serve as further inspiration to the players.

“We want to be active participants at Euro 2020, not just hosts, and we will give our all in what I believe will be two games.

"The Scotland fans always travel in their numbers and I hope they will do so once again if we were to reach the final, but for the moment our focus will be on the semi-final first and foremost."

Meanwhile, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard says that he will do everything that he can to ensure the national team are well-prepared for the play-offs.

The semi-final will take place on Thursday 26 March, just five days after a full round of Premiership fixtures – something that the Ibrox manager hopes will change.

"I represent this club in this country so for me I give it the support I need to give it," Gerrard said. "I certainly won't be standing in the way.

"But we don't make those decisions. Ultimately it will be down to the SFA and stuff.

"We'll go with the flow and if it means us skipping a game or adjusting a game we'll do everything we can to support [Scotland]. That's what you've got to do."