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Football: Strachan wants more Scotland bravehearts

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Gordon Strachan urged Scotland to be "braver" after his first match as manager of the national side ended in a 1-0 friendly win over Estonia at Pittodrie on Wednesday.

Strachan was brought in to replace Craig Levein, sacked last month after Scotland's disastrous start to 2014 World Cup qualifying left them bottom of European Group A with just two points from their opening four matches.

But a first-half goal from Charlie Mulgrew gave Strachan a winning start, although the former Scotland midfielder saw room for improvement.

"We need the players to be a bit braver and find the good players who can go and take someone on instead of playing square so often," Strachan explained.

"Players were picking up good positions but we need to find them earlier."

Strachan was given a warm welcome by Scotland fans at the ground where he won 15 trophies playing for Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen side in the 1970s and 80s.

But Strachan, who went on to win trophies in England with Manchester United -- where he again played under Ferguson -- and Leeds United, admitted to nerves before his Scotland bow, having previously not managed a win in any of his opening games as manager of Coventry, Southampton, Celtic and Middlesbrough.

But Mulgrew, a player Strachan sold when in charge of Celtic, helped change all that when he clipped Charlie Adam’s free-kick past Sergei Pareiko in the 39th minute for his first Scotland goal.

Estonia, with the game still goalless, had chances too through Taijo Teniste and Tarmo Kink but they were both denied courtesy of fine saves by Scotland keeper Allan McGregor.

Afterwards, Strachan declared himself satisfied with the performance of his players on a heavy Pittodrie pitch.

"I'm more relaxed now and I'm really happy," he said. "It's been a terrific night for me and I must admit no matter what clubs I've been at, I think that's the most emotional and nervous I've been before a game.

"There were some good individual performances and I think everyone knows how the pitch was, it was a problem sometimes.

"We asked individuals to take people on. The surface wasn't great for that but they tried it."

Strachan added: "You could see the players who play regularly. The guys who play regularly did a good job. They did a lot of thing we wanted them to do but some of the things were nearly impossible because of the surface.

"It was a night for brave players on the ball as well as brave players at the back. It was a horrible day and the surface was bad and they played against different types of players.

"There were some things that I really liked and were encouraging and things that I need to work on.

"But overall there was a lot to like and we made chances."

Next up for Scotland is a World Cup qualifier against Wales -- who won 2-1 in a friendly at home to Austria on Wednesday -- at Glasgow's Hampden Park in March followed by a trip to Serbia.

And Strachan, bidding to take Scotland to their first major tournament finals since the 1998 World Cup in France, said he'd spent more time assessing Scotland's next two opponents than he had Estonia.

"For the last two days we have done a lot of work in terms of what we might be up against in the next two games in six weeks' time than what we would be facing tonight (Wednesday)," he explained.

"I saw things against Estonia that worked, things that aren't going to work and things we need to work on."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130206/football-strachan-wants-more-scotland-bravehearts