Scotland’s players will work through the disappointment of missing out on this year’s World Cup but quickly refocus on their next games, according to manager Steve Clarke and captain Andy Robertson.
On a dramatic and emotional night at Hampden, Ukraine were 3-1 winners in the World Cup play-off semi-final and will now play Wales for a place at Qatar 2022. For Scotland, a long qualification campaign came to an end and Clarke admitted his side were not at their best on the night.
A packed schedule means that the squad will have to be ready for the start of the Nations League campaign next week, when Armenia arrive in Glasgow for the opening game, with Scotland playing Republic of Ireland days later.
Clarke said that the team would prepare for those challenges but would need to process the pain of losing to Ukraine first.
“The first thing you have to do is suffer together,” he said.
“I am suffering, the coaching staff are suffering and more than anybody the players are suffering.
“We have 24 hours to feel sorry for ourselves, we will analyse the game as a group and what we will try and do is try to get back on the horse, for want of a better phrase, and we will go again.”
Scotland captain Andy Robertson echoed his manager’s words, saying there was a lot to play for in the coming weeks as the team looks towards Euro 2024, but that the impact of Wednesday’s game couldn’t be overlooked.
The Liverpool star told Sky Sports that he understood the team would be criticised for failing to make Qatar 2022 but had to try to regain forward momentum after an eight-game unbeaten run came to an end.
“We have to stick together,” Robertson said. “We know there will be scrutiny coming our way. We know we will be under fire, that’s the way of it.
“But we have to stick together as a group. We have made massive strides over the past couple of years and there will come a time where we need to take perspective on that. But tonight is not that night.
“All we can say is sorry to the fans for disappointing them but we just have to dust ourselves down and try to go again.”
Scotland had gone into the game knowing that two wins would have ended a 24-year wait to play at a World Cup again, and would have set up matches against rivals England, as well as USA and Iran.
Instead the team now prepare for a triple header of games, with the visit of Armenia and the trip to Ireland followed by a return match against the Armenians in Yerevan on June 14.