IF anyone knows how the Scotland players will feel when they step onto the pitch in Belgrade this evening, it's Pars boss Stevie Crawford.

At 7.45pm, a nation will be crossing their fingers and so much more besides as Steve Clarke aims to lead the men's team to their first major tournament since 1998, and the World Cup in France, when they face Serbia in the Euro 2020 play-off final.

Crawford will join fans across the country in cheering on the national side from home, hoping that the current crop can go one step further than when they were last in a play-off match.

In 2003, a Scotland team managed by Berti Vogts took on the Netherlands for the right to go to Euro 2004 in Portugal, having finished second in their qualifying group behind Germany.

Crawford, starring in attack for Jimmy Calderwood's Dunfermline at club level, was an unused substitute for the first leg, a memorable 1-0 victory at Hampden thanks to a stunning James McFadden.

However, despite featuring as a second half substitute four days later in Amsterdam, a Dutch side he described as "a wounded animal" blew the Scots' dreams apart with a crushing 6-0 victory.

Tonight, Clarke and his players are facing a one-off chance to reach the European Championships for the first time since 1996, and the 25-times capped Crawford - who scored four times in dark blue - is keeping his fingers crossed they can do it.

"Like anybody else, I'll be supporting the national team," he said this week, after being named the SPFL Championship Manager of the Month.

"It's a magnificent job that Steve Clarke's done with his coaching staff and the players to get ourselves into this position, and as I say, he'll have the full support of all the Dunfermline team hoping that we can progress and play in a major tournament.

"It's been a long time, but there's an excitement. I think the run that the Scottish squad have put together at the moment shows that they're very much together as well. Steve Clarke had a terrific spell at Kilmarnock and he seems to have brought that to the national squad as well which is really pleasing.

"You look at the results in Steve Clarke's reign and he's definitely turned the mentality of a group that's now looking forward. Fingers crossed we qualify from this campaign."

Reflecting back to his own experiences against a Dutch team containing the likes of Ruud van Nistelrooy - who hit a second leg hat-trick - Wesley Sneijder, Marc Overmars, Edgar Davids and Patrick Kluivert, Crawford continued: "I think obviously we had James McFadden scoring the winner at Hampden that day and the elation from that, but Holland were a wounded animal.

"When I look back, at the team - never mind the starting eleven - and that squad that the Dutch had it was a fantastic achievement to win the first game but,because it's a two leg and you end up going out in the manner that we did, it was tough to take.

"The one thing I didn't do at the time, and as a player sometimes you didn't, you get caught up in the moment and you probably don't actually enjoy it the way that you should.

"It's never a nice experience for Holland to beat us in the way they did, but when you look back on the game, some of the goals and some of their attacking play was ridiculous with boys that were really going for the jugular.

"Scotland will face that, but with the togetherness and their drive and their commitment, and (the fact that) I'm sure Steve Clarke will have them well organised, hopefully that gets us across that finishing line."

While also watching Scotland's senior side, Crawford will be keeping an eye on both the under-21s and Wales over the coming days, with two of his squad involved.

Lewis Mayo is with Scot Gemmill's 21s, who play Croatia this afternoon and Greece on Tuesday in European Championship qualifying, while Owain Fôn Williams is with the Welsh squad.

Crawford noted: "For all it brings problems to team selection, it's problems you want, for someone to get pulled into the national squad again.

"Big Owain, when you guys speak to him, and when the fans have spoken to him before the lockdown or whatever, he's just an infectious guy, ery passionate about his country, and passionate about football in general.

"He'll come back and the first thing I'll do is have a conversation and a coffee with him because I want to steal the ideas the Welsh squad are using! I'm absolutely delighted for the big man.

"For Lewis Mayo, it's great as well. He got in and played the last two games; I think possibly Ryan Porteous had stepped up to the full squad and the boy (George) Johnston was injured for that but, by all accounts, he was magnificent in the two games.

"He'll go away there with a spring in his step because I think he was outstanding at the weekend, playing in a position that isn't natural, but again it shows the type of characters that we're fortunate to have at the club at the moment."