DEJECTED Scotland manager Alex McLeish described his team’s 3-0 flop against Kazakhstan in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier as “horrible”.

The Scots supremo winced as he saw his players taken apart by a country rated 117th in world football.

The home side, with only three wins in their 30 previous encounters – against Andorra, Latvia and the Faroe Islands  – fired into a two-goal lead in the opening 10 minutes and McLeish’s men just couldn’t respond.

The shell-shocked gaffer attempted to use Scotland’s rugby team as a motivational factor following their 38-38 draw with England in last weekend’s Six Nations finale, but, unfortunately, it did not have the desired effect.

Big Eck, speaking to Sky Sports, admitted: “It was horrible. We started brightly and then they hit us with two blockbusters. It was then really difficult and it was disappointing not to see a great reaction.

“At half-time, we tried to change it a little bit to see if it could unsettle Kazakhstan, but they were first to the second balls, they looked very sharp on the night and, unfortunately, after a good start, we didn’t get up to speed.

“You can only impart your experience to the players and we actually brought the rugby team into it and their reaction last week at Twickenham and use that as an example.

“We said: ‘You’ve got to roll your sleeves up” and I believe if we could have got one goal, we then could have gone on and got another one. But, unfortunately, Kazakhstan were a team on fire.

“It’s a sore one. We’ve had big defeats before, but the facts are that we were beaten by a team who are lower than us so on paper, we should win.

“But I think you’ve got to give a little bit of credit to Kazakhstan in the way they played and took advantage of us and our inability to get to the second balls, to play if forward quicker, taking too many touches and that was a big factor.

“It was an extremely important game and it’s the first one, so we know there are a lot of other games, but we know that wasn’t good enough.”

Scotland will face San Marino – the lowest ranked side in world football – in their next qualifier on Sunday.

A repeat performance of the collapse in the Astana Arena is unthinkable for McLeish and his players.


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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