Football: World Cup - Brown's lament for defence

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The Independent Online
CRAIG BROWN could not hide his disappointment at the way in which Scotland failed yet again to go beyond the first round of the World Cup, although he was generous in his praise of the Moroccans and sympathised with their own failure to qualify following Norway's unexpected victory over Brazil.

"We played poorly today in relation to the other two matches," the Scotland coach said. "We conceded two goals which were very, very uncharacteristic for Scotland and at this level. You cannot concede goals like that and hope to survive. And then when we were reduced to 10 men we gave ourselves virtually an impossible task.

"However, the players fought to the end as we expect and tried manfully to restore some pride, but unfortunately I think on the day the better team just managed to win the match. They didn't surprise us. They played exactly as we expected them to play although they changed their system slightly, but that didn't win the match for them. What won it for them was taking the chances that they created. According to the statistics we made more goalscoring chances, but we failed to take them."

Looking back over Scotland's tournament as a whole, Brown said: "I think we were drawn in a very difficult group and I think anyone knowledgeable in football would agree that we acquitted ourselves fairly well. We played well against the two teams that qualified without any breaks at all.

"I feel sorry for the Moroccans. They put a lot of effort in tonight and a lot of skilful play, and to win 3-0 and still fail to qualify must be a great disappointment for them."

Henri Michel, the Moroccan coach once sacked as coach of France following a defeat by Scotland, said: "We are all extremely disappointed about what's happening to us, but I want to pay tribute to the players. They played an outstanding game, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.

"We lost not when we lost against Brazil, we lost when we drew with Norway. However, Morocco have shown the world by having an excellent tournament that we have fully deserved to be in the 1998 World Cup.

"We never expected Norway to defeat Brazil. It was one chance in a million, but it happened and what can you do? I understand a penalty was given in a very generous way but I have no details and I really can't say any more about that.

"Morocco have shown tonight they are capable of playing the best teams. We were tactically very good. We made mistakes when we played against Norway, mistakes we did not repeat tonight. The Moroccan team has great potential, and they did their best tonight."