Scotland v San Marino: ‘Everything that we want to achieve is still in front of us’ – Steve Clarke
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|Euro 2020 qualifying: Scotland v San Marino|
|Venue: Hampden Date: Sunday, 13 October Kick-off: 17:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website; highlights on BBC One Scotland|
Scotland have got three games to get the “positivity back” for the Euro 2020 play-offs, starting with San Marino on Sunday, says manager Steve Clarke.
Chances of automatic qualification were extinguished by Thursday’s 4-0 defeat to Russia, which leaves Scotland fifth in Group I.
A disappointing campaign ends with a trip to Cyprus and a home match against Kazakhstan in November.
“We need to stick together and we have to turn the corner,” said Clarke.
“What’s gone is gone. We have to learn from it. In adversity you sometimes learn more about people.
“Footballers are a resilient breed. They are used to the highs and lows. We’ve had the low, now it’s time to look forward to a few highs.
“We can keep looking back and beating ourselves up, which we’re quite good at in this country, or we can say everything that we want to achieve is still in front of us.
“If you look at the possibilities, we have to win the next three games to finish third in the group. If we do that, we’ll get the positivity back going into the play-off games in March. We still have everything to play for.”
Scotland have a home semi-final play-off as reward for winning their Nations League group.
San Marino suffered a 9-0 defeat to Belgium on Thursday and the team at the bottom of the Fifa rankings have gone more than two years without scoring.
Against such lowly opposition following four defeats in a row, a poor Hampden attendance is expected.
“If the stadium is empty, we still have to win the game,” said Clarke. “We are appreciative of everybody who comes to watch us, so if there is a small number there, we’ll still be appreciative of them. What we need to do is get a few wins and make sure the stadium is full come March.
“The first objective is always to win the game and, if we win the game well, even better.”
Clarke said it was always his intention to make changes for Sunday’s encounter, regardless of recent results, as he announced Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin would come in for David Marshall.
“It was a pre-planned change,” he explained. “I need a second goalkeeper with more caps, more experience to play.”
Scotland to come out swinging? – analysis
Willie Miller, former Scotland defender
I’m really surprised by the results so far. We’ve got decent players. Nobody is saying they are world class but they shouldn’t be getting thrashed they way they are, they shouldn’t be showing such a lack of character and determination. At Kilmarnock, Stevie Clarke took a group of players who were underperforming and forged them into a team that believed. They were organised, disciplined with grit and had the confidence to take on Celtic and Rangers. We’ve not seen that yet in the Scotland performances.
Neil McCann, former Scotland winger
It might sound old school but, as a nation when we are shoved up against the wall, we tend to come out swinging. Come those play-off games, I expect us to be in a good place mentally. It doesn’t matter what’s happened before, there’s an absolute opportunity to go and get it.
Michael Stewart, former Scotland midfielder
Ryan Christie is too good to leave out. He’s playing in a position where there are a lot of good options so move him further forward.
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