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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson fired up for decisive clash at Hampden

Barry Ferguson insists Scotland are not even contemplating the prospect of defeat to Italy in today's crunch European Championship qualifier.

Confidence is high in the camp ahead of the match which will determine qualification for next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Scotland have won every match at Hampden in the qualifying campaign so far and another three points would guarantee success in their quest to come through the `group of death'.

And, as far as Ferguson is concerned, the Scots are no longer interested in hard-luck stories.

'I've never been more confident, playing in any Scotland team, about our ability to get a result,' said the national team captain.

'We are certainly good enough to win. I've always been confident about this team and this squad. We are now ever so close to qualifying, we just need the three points.

'I know we've had a great campaign, people will say that even if we don't get through, but that hasn't even crossed my mind.'

Ferguson believes qualification for Euro 2008 would be just the start of many successful yars ahead for this Scotland team.

He said: 'This is probably the best Scotland team I've played in. We've got a lot of good players and this team can go a long way because there is a lot of youth alongside the experience. It can get better in years to come.

'I would say we've created a bit of a stir, we're up to 13th in the world rankings. I think it's about time that people did sit up and take notice of Scotland.'

For all his achievements at club level with Rangers, Ferguson has never been to a major tournament with his country and, as he approaches his 30th birthday, he is well aware time is running out.

'Scotland-wise, maybe even career-wise, this will be my biggest game,' he said.

'I just want to get to a major championships with Scotland. That's been the main aim since I started my international career and now I'm one win away from achieving that.

'It's something that has been missing for me, I've always said that. People have had a go, saying I don't really want to play for my country, but that's a load of nonsense. I'm desperate to get there.'

As captain of Rangers, Ferguson is used to being revered by one half of Glasgow and resented by the other so he has relished having the backing of the entire nation this week.

'There is a lot of hype but, to be honest, it's great,' he said. 'All the guys know that we can make a bit of history.

'It's great to have the whole country behind you and it's at a level that I've never experienced before.

'That's different from when we're concentrating on club football, where Rangers fans are saying hello and maybe I get something else from the other side of the city.'

The waiting may be almost over but Ferguson made one final plea to the Tartan Army to be patient at Hampden this evening.

'Don't forget Italy are a quality team, so we've got to be a wee bit cautious, while going for the three points,' he said.

'I'm sure they will all understand that we've got a game plan. From the first whistle, we'll try to rattle them and have a go.

'We did that against Ukraine and scored a couple of goals in the first 10 minutes.'