Nations League promotion eludes Scotland after Israel loss

Scotland were celebrating at the start of their triple header
Scotland were celebrating at the start of their triple header (PA Wire)
4:30am, Thu 19 Nov 2020
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Scotland manager Steve Clarke told his players to focus on the positives from their triple header.

Clarke’s side suffered disappointment in Israel after a second consecutive 1-0 defeat saw them miss out on Nations League promotion after being pipped to top spot in Group B by the Czech Republic.

But Scotland have Euro 2020 games against Croatia, England and the Czechs to look forward to after beating Serbia in the first of three away games in six days.

While Clarke will ponder how to add a clinical edge to his team, there was much to encourage him about their general play over the three games.

And he wants his players to remember the good times from their momentous week.

Clarke said: “I wanted to say the right words to the players in the dressing room so it took me a little bit of time to calm down and compose myself to make sure I thanked them for their efforts this week.

“Let’s not forget how everybody felt in the country on Friday morning when they woke up.

“It was a magnificent achievement from this group of players.

“We have to take that positivity into the next qualifying campaign, which is the World Cup.

“Qualifying for a major tournament, I think we have to take the highs from the week. It was a marvellous achievement, it’s been a long time since it was done.

“Because we are all professionals, we will go away disappointed because we lost the last two games 1-0.

“But it’s important we focus on the positives out the week, and it was a big positive.

“I will go away and reflect on the last two performances more than the first one and hopefully we can start in a really good place when we get to March.”

Scotland are set to be in pot three for the World Cup qualifying draw on December 7 and that campaign will be the focus ahead of the European Championship.

“The Nations League is gone, Euro 2020 qualifying is finished as well,” Clarke said. “We are there, we have to put that in the cupboard.

“We have to look forward to the World Cup draw, with confidence and positivity.

“Hopefully the draw is kind to us and then we have three massive World Cup qualifying matches in March.

“We have to be ready to give ourselves a platform to qualify from the group.”

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