Gordon Strachan insists his Scotland side should not be embarrassed after they officially crashed out of the World Cup qualifiers last night with defeat in Serbia.
A second-half double by Filip Djuricic sunk a much-changed Scotland side and left them bottom of Group A with two points from six games and on the end of their fourth successive qualifying defeat.
The Scotland manager said: “I said that we might have to take a few slaps but we have to do something, we can’t keep plodding along and hoping something happens. I want to pick players that will make things happen.
“Unfortunately for players like Shaun Maloney and Steven Naismith, the conditions weren’t great for them but they can’t be embarrassed.
“Sometimes when you have played a game of football, as long as you have given it your best shot you can hold your head up high.
“We played against top players, technically gifted, strong, so the physical side the conditions gave us a bit of a problem but in saying that, we stood up to it and the longer the game went on the better we felt about ourselves.”
Strachan praised his side for their “big hearts” in the wake of what was a routine defeat for the visitors who now have to build towards the 2016 European Championship qualifiers.He said: “I think the players were surprised by the conditions which is a problem if you have smaller lads to play in it but they have got big hearts, technically and physically they weren’t as good as the lads for Serbia but they had big hearts.
“In the next couple of years we have to keep the best youngsters, the best of the players who are missing and a group in the middle and if we can merge that then we can try to produce some football to the standard we have seen tonight in Serbia.”
However, Strachan, in his third match as Scotland manager, was frustrated at his players for conceding another quick double in the defeat in Novi Sad, Djuricic scoring twice in six minutes. Against Wales at Hampden Park on Friday they conceded twice in 84 seconds.
“When it’s 1-0 you have always got a chance of winning but it seems to happen too often that when one goal comes, a second follows,” he said. “If we lose a goal we really need to see that the game’s not finished.”
Strachan added: “It’s a shame for everyone who makes a mistake after putting a lot of good work in. It’s not dishonest mistakes.”
Serbia (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic; Ivanovic, Nastasic, Subotic, Tomovic; Fejsa (Petrovic, 85), Milivojevic; Basta, Tadic (Djordjevic, 68), Tosic (Stevanovic, 90); Djuricic.
Scotland (4-2-3-1): Marshall (Cardiff City); Hutton (Real Mallorca), Caldwell (Wigan Athletic), Hanley (Blackburn Rovers), Whittaker (Norwich City); McArthur (Wigan, Adam, h-t), Bridcutt (Brighton & Hove Albion); Boyd (Hull City), Maloney (Wigan, Burke, 79), Naismith (Everton); Rhodes (Blackburn, Miller, 80).
Referee I Vad (Hun).