Smith leads apologies to coach as Scotland U21s reach nadir

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The Independent Football

The Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper Graeme Smith has apologised to the coach Rainer Bonhof after their Uefa Championship qualifying campaign ended disastrously with a 3-0 defeat by Slovenia.

The dismal performance meant Bonhof's side finished bottom of their qualifying group after securing only one victory from 10 matches and suffering five defeats.

Speculation has intensified over the future of Bonhof, despite the German having a contract until next summer, but the players feel that they let him down.

The Motherwell goalkeeper, who is one of many to graduate from the Under-21 ranks after the Slovenia game because of his age, said: "Every time we go out we want to win but we really wanted it this time. This was the last game for a lot of us and we wanted to give the coach a good result to remember us by. But we let him and ourselves down with the performance. We kept our discipline but there was very little else going for us. We can only say sorry to Rainer but we are all disappointed that we couldn't win and end this group on a high."

Bonhof refused to speak about his future after watching his inexperienced side slump to defeat. Despite fielding a new line-up, it was the same story as they lost out to a Neill Collins own goal and Dalibor Stevanovic's double strike.

"It is just 10 minutes after the final whistle," Bonhof said when asked about his future in the aftermath of the defeat. "We have just had a match and suddenly you want me to speak about my future, but I am not going to."

Bonhof did however admit that the defeat was the nadir of a doomed campaign. Their hopes of qualifying died a long time ago, but he said: "It ends how it started - that is the only comment I can make.

"This is the worst [defeat] of the campaign. We were better in the second half and we created a few chances but our finishing was poor.

"But the performance on the whole was poor. We were keen but we weren't sharp enough. We made too many mistakes and allowed them to play their system and that was our downfall.

"We made too many wrong decisions from the word go and they had that cutting edge in front of goal."