UEFA European Under-17 Championships
Scotland vs Azerbaijan
Wednesday 11th May 2016, 1pm kick-off
Bakcell Arena, Baku
Kyle McAllister has urged his team-mates to soak up the big crowd experience tomorrow when Scotland take on Azerbaijan in their final group match of this year’s UEFA European Under-17 Championship Finals.
More than 33,000 supporters attended Azerbaijan’s match against Portugal last week, setting new attendance record at any UEFA youth competition since the inaugural seasons in 2001/02, and a big crowd is anticipated again tomorrow afternoon at the Bakcell Arena in Baku.
McAllister though is no stranger to playing in front of a large audience having featured for St Mirren when they played Rangers at Ibrox Stadium with over 46,000 people watching on.
The 17-year-old burst onto the scene under manager Alex Rae this year and is relishing the chance to star in front of up to 11,000 spectators tomorrow.
He said: “We know there could be a big crowd at our match tomorrow and some of the players in the squad won’t be used to that.
“When I played at Ibrox I had a lot of experienced players talking me through the game which was helpful.
“I thought it would be scarier than what it was but as soon as I stepped onto the pitch I was completely focussed on the game and forgot about the people watching.
“It was a great experience for me being so young and I think the team just has to enjoy what tomorrow’s match has to offer.”
After making his debut from the bench in a 1-0 loss to Queen of the South, McAllister made his first start at home just a week later helping St Mirren to a 1-0 win over Dumbarton.
He kept his place in the team the following week for the trip to Ibrox and has remained part of the first-team squad ever since.
He explained: “I had been on the bench a few times for the first team and got around 20 minutes against Queen of the South which was great.
“There was an injury and the next week I was involved in the shape for the match against Dumbarton.
“I was a bit surprised when the manager named the starting 11 and I was in it but it was a great feeling and we managed to win 2-1.
“I was a little bit surprised to start against Rangers as well and there were some nerves before the game as I heard it was close to a sell-out but when I got onto the pitch I just focussed on my game.
“The manager has shown he is willing to give the younger in the squad a chance which is great from my point of view. “
Scotland cannot make it through the quarter-finals of the European Championship after losing to Belgium and Portugal in their first two matches.
Despite the disappointment, McAllister is taking the positives from the campaign which started in October last year and he is determined to end the experience on a high.
He said: “I thought we could have got something from the game against Belgium if we had taken our chances.
“It’s been an amazing experience and playing against other national teams helps you to improve.
“You come up against better players as you progress through the qualifiers to the elite round and then the finals which is a really high standard.
“Azerbaijan showed they are a good team with their draw against Belgium on Sunday and we will need to be at our best but we think we can get the result and finish off with a win.”
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