SCOTLAND’S World Cup dream is still alive.

A dramatic late win – again – on Thursday secured a vital three points against Slovakia that lifted Gordon Strachan’s side into second place in Group F and extended their unbeaten run in 2017.

One match remains, a trip to Slovenia on Sunday. Winning that would guarantee second place for the Scots but would it also mean a definite play-off spot? Let’s have a look.

The second-placed ranking

There are nine qualifying groups in total, but only space for eight runners-up in the play-off round.

This means that the second-placed teams will be put into a mini-table at the end of the qualifying process, with the bottom team missing out.

Results against the bottom-placed team in the group are discarded, meaning Scotland are six points and a plus six goal difference boost worse off than they would be if their games against Malta counted.

Teams are then ranked in the following order: Points, goal difference, goals scored, fair play points, drawing of lots. Hopefully it doesn't come to that last one. 

As it stands, the Scots are sixth in the ranking of second-placed teams, although Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Wales all have a game in hand.Evening Times:

However, beating Slovenia would mean Scotland finish on 14 points in the mini-table and qualify for the play-offs if any of those three teams drop points in their remaining two games.

That looks a distinct possibility.

The rivals

Sweden have an easy looking tie against Luxembourg on Saturday before facing the Netherlands away on Tuesday night in their final qualifier.

Bosnia face Belgium, who are already qualified, before a trip to Estonia, while Wales have a trip to Georgia and home tie against the Republic of Ireland in front of them – without Gareth Bale in the squad. 

The drawback for the Scots is that they have the worst goal difference of all the second-placed teams as it stands, so the nightmare scenario of every other team in the mini-group picking up maximum points would see them finish bottom of the pile. 

There is more room for optimism though.

If Scotland grab three points in Ljubljana, there are at least three teams they could leapfrog in the standings. While Portugal and Italy look relatively safe, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Iceland are all within the Scots’ grasp.

All three teams face tricky ends to their campaigns, with Northern Ireland travelling to Norway, Iceland playing Turkey away and Denmark hosting Romania.

A win for Scotland combined with any of those teams falling to defeat would see Strachan's side overtake them.

In simple terms, Scotland need to win and hope that one of Bosnia, Sweden or Wales drops points or Iceland, Denmark or Northern Ireland lose their final match. 

The play-offs

The draw will be on October 17, but Scotland don’t look likely to be seeded as the four seeds will be chosen based on the FIFA world rankings.

As it stands, Portugal (3), Wales (13) Italy (17), Northern Ireland (20), Iceland (22) Sweden (23) Denmark (26) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (36) are all ahead of 43rd-placed Scotland in the ranking.