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Brown backs McLeish to succeed

Craig Brown has backed Alex McLeish to end Scotland's 10-year wait for qualification to a major finals.

Brown led Scotland to the 1998 World Cup, having also steered them to Euro 96.

Since then the fortunes of the national team have taken a turn for the worse, however Scotland are currently top of their qualification group for Euro 2008 after three wins from four matches.

McLeish was formally unveiled as the new national coach at Hampden Park this morning, succeeding Walter Smith who resigned to begin a second stint as Rangers boss on January 10.

Brown said: 'I think it's a very favourable appointment.

'He's a fine fellow. He's got good experience both domestically and in Europe and particularly as a player of course with 77 international caps.

'He's taking over at the worst time, because Scotland are sitting so proudly at the top of their group.

'There's only one way they can go - they can either stay there or go the other way, but I predict that Alex will keep them there and Scotland will manage to qualify for the European Championship.'

Speaking on Sky Sports News, Brown said: 'Walter Smith has given us a wonderful start and Alex can continue the good work.

'It's favourable because it's a maintenance job, he's just got to continue what's been happening.

'He saw this opportunity and he's taken it. Good luck to him.

'The fans are very supportive of the manager. Certainly in the short term he'll be a popular appointment and everyone will get behind him.'

Former Scotland midfielder David Provan, who like McLeish was a member of the 1982 World Cup squad, believes the Euro 2008 qualifier against Georgia on March 24 must be won.

'If he wins that he gets the supporters on-side and he's off and running,' said Provan.

'He really has to win that game.

'He will feel we can qualify but given we're alongside Italy, France and Ukraine I think there'll be a certain amount of realism in terms of Alex's attitude.

'He'll certainly have us organised, he'll have us motivated, and he'll get the immediate respect of the players.

'There's no question we have the right man for the job.

'Whether he's good enough or able enough to get us through to the finals of the European Championship is a different matter.

'Bt providing he does what Walter did, which is to make us as good as we can be, I don't think we can have too many complaints.'