Scotland were not good enough to progress in their first major tournament in 23 years but will make sure they don’t wait as long for the next one, manager Steve Clarke said after his side’s exit from Euro 2020 on Tuesday.
A 3-1 defeat by 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia at Hampden Park left the Scots last in Group D and yet to reach the knockout stages of a European championship or World Cup in 11 attempts.
“We’re disappointed the tournament’s ended early for us but we’ve got a lot to be happy about, the way we got there after 23 years,” Clarke told reporters.
“We’ve got a lot to be happy about the way we approached the tournament, we tried to compete, we tried to play as well as we could and unfortunately not quite good enough to get out of the group stage...but we’ll learn from it.
“We’ll look and see what we can do better in the future and we’ll make sure it’s not 23 years before we go to the next tournament.”
Scotland are currently second to Denmark in UEFA qualifying Group F for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Clarke said his players, many of them youngsters, would learn from the experience against a battle-hardened side.
“We can improve on it...we have to get better at everything, we’ve also conceded a number of goals in the tournament that I think were preventable.
“We have to get better in every department, but we have improved a lot over the two years I’ve been head coach...and we have to keep improving.”
Scorer Callum McGregor said it had been a proud moment to get his first international goal.
“Such a tough learning experience again tonight against some really top players but it just gives you the hunger to try and get back here,” he said.
Former Scotland captain Graeme Souness, watching the game as a pundit for ITV television, was blunt about what he had witnessed, however.
“We were completely outfoxed and outplayed by a really good team tonight,” he said.
“So the learning curve, what they will take away from this, is they have a country mile to catch up to where they need to be to make an impression at this level”.
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