IF the two goals that Munas Dabbur fired past Craig Gordon for RB Salzburg against Celtic on Thursday night wasn’t enough of a warning for Scotland ahead of their trip to Haifa on Thursday, then former head coach of the Israeli national side Eli Guttman is hammering home the message.

In his opinion, Scotland boss Alex McLeish and the Scotland defence will have to be at their best to stop the 26-year-old heaping further misery upon our nation’s footballers and supporters after his second-half salvo saw the country’s champions fall to defeat in Austria.

Guttman, who was the head coach of Israel for four years until stepping down in 2015 and gave Dabbur his international debut against Honduras four years ago, has watched on with pride as the striker has developed from an exciting prospect under his charge to one of his nation’s key players.

And he is in no doubt that the Scotland defence, which is a work in progress, will have their hands full dealing with a red-hot frontman who has 10 goals in 12 appearances in all competitions this season.

“Scotland should be really concerned about how they are going to handle Dabbur,” said Guttman. “In my opinion, he is the key player in the Israeli attacking line.

“He is a huge danger to any opponent, never mind a Scotland defence that is still getting to grips with a new formation under the new head coach.

“He is quick and is a great finisher, and there is absolutely no doubt that he will certainly give the Scotland defence a really tough time.”

On a positive note for Scotland is the fact that Israel themselves are something of a team in flux. New coach, Austrian legend Andreas Herzog, is trying to implement a new style of play and an ethos that isn’t a million miles away from the one McLeish is fine-tuning with his own side.

That is why Guttman is banking on home advantage swaying the tie the way of his nation after losing their opening Uefa Nations League fixture on the road in Albania.

“Israel are starting a new period with a new coach and a new style,” said Guttman. “The coach has come in with his own ideas and his own system. He is playing with three at the back and two wingers, and he is trying to get his philosophy across to the players.

“In the first half against Albania the team played very well. They missed some chances and in the second half Israel lost the game because of individual mistakes in the defence.

“Israel are far better playing at home than they are away from home, so I am expecting it to be a very tough test for Scotland with the game being in Haifa.

“Israel will be doing everything they can to claw their way back into the group after the loss in Albania, and that will make it tough for Scotland.

“It is a new stadium of around 30,000 capacity, but I think there will be around 20,000 supporters there. In Israel, the level of support during a game very much depends on how the match is going. If Israel are doing well, then the support will be right behind them, but if it going badly, then the support will not push the team on. That is the culture here, and it sometimes doesn’t help the national team. Everything depends on what the quality is like on the pitch, whereas the Scots seem to get behind their team no matter what.”

There are names sprinkled throughout the Israel squad such as Brighton’s Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal, the ex-Celtic midfielder, that many Scots may be familiar with, but Guttman believes it may be a notable and very recognisable absentee that could give the visitors a chance of returning with a good result.

“For me, when I was the coach, Nir Bitton was the key player in the team,” he said. “It is so unfortunate that he is injured right now for Israel, but obviously it is very lucky for Scotland. He is such a good player. He has real quality, vision, he knows how and when to move the ball. When I was the coach, I liked him very much. For me, he can play like Sergio Busquets does for Barcelona, that’s how highly I rate him. Our national team really needs a player of that quality, and are not as good when he is missing.

“The two players that play in England too, Kayal and Hemed, they provide really powerful leadership to the team. If these three players are playing well, then Israel will have a real chance.

“Beram especially is a powerful player. He always plays with all of his heart. He really grew up during his time in Scotland with Celtic, and at Brighton now he is even more experienced.

“He was a key player in the first campaign I had in charge of the national side, and he played so well when we got a 3-3 draw against Portugal for example. You could see all of his qualities in that game.”