Scotland told to make statement against worst team in world

Date published: Friday 22nd March 2019 11:04 - Matthew Briggs

Oliver Burke Scotland TEAMtalk

Scotland assistant coach Peter Grant claims the players have to make a statement against San Marino after they failed in the basic aspects of football in Kazakhstan.

Alex McLeish’s squad have a quick turnaround following their disastrous start to their European Championship qualifying group, when they went down 3-0 in the Astana Arena.

Scotland now face San Marino on Sunday and Grant has demanded the players show a reaction to one of the country’s all-time worst results.

Grant told the Scottish Football Association Twitter account: “They have to make a statement, it’s not about looking to. They have to do it.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, you have to earn it. There is no givens in any football match. You have to earn everything you get in a football match.

“People say it’s the easiest thing in the world to defend – we proved it’s not, because you have to defend as a group and that comes right from the front. We didn’t do that well enough.

“Against the ball we weren’t good enough and with the ball we weren’t good enough, and it you have that combination you are not going to win games of football.

“So we have to put it right against San Marino, we have to win the game, and it has to be a much better performance.”

Scotland will have to do a lot more than beat 211th-ranked San Marino, officially the worst national team in the world, in order to make up for their defeat against a team who had only won three of their previous 40 competitive matches.

Alex McLeish TEAMtalk

San Marino go into the game on the back of a 5-0 defeat in Cyprus while Group I favourites Belgium started their campaign off with a 3-1 home win over Russia.

McLeish’s side have given themselves a mountain to climb to make the top two and will need to produce a surprise result of the positive kind to make back the points.

But the concerning factor for Grant was that mistakes and dangers which were flagged up before the game were not heeded. Stand-in left-back Graeme Shinnie twice let players get in behind to net in the opening 10 minutes and a shell-shocked Scotland never recovered.

Grant said: “We were caught with two sucker punches, a ball in between us where a runner has come from midfield. We said that would happen and that’s exactly what they did.

“And the second goal has started from a simple thing like a throw-in. If you don’t do the small details that we spoke about, it doesn’t matter what level you are playing at, you can be punished, and that was proven.”

Grant added: “We played too safe at times. We passed the ball slowly and across instead of in between or beyond. We talked about that because that happened in Israel as well. That was a massive problem we had in Israel, we played too slowly, we played back too often, we played square too often, and it happened again.

“So we are really disappointed in that because that was one thing we harped on about.

“And you can see Kazakhstan were making it like a cup tie, they were wanting to get the ball in behind and support it quickly. And that’s part of football, we can’t all be Barcelona.

“You have to match your runners, you have to be willing to run harder than them and go and support your players, and we didn’t think we did that well enough.

“The players are obviously disappointed and as a staff we are gutted because it wasn’t the performance we expected from this group of players.”


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