ALEX McLeish hasn’t considered quitting following Scotland's humiliating defeat to Kazakhstan and remains convinced he can deliver what he believes would be their “greatest ever” achievement – qualification for the Euro 2020 finals.

McLeish’s men were booed off the park in the Astana Arena in Nursultan by their own supporters on Thursday night after crashing to a humiliating 3-0 defeat in their first Group I match.

However, the 60-year-old, whose team recovered from an away defeat to Israel in the Nations League last year to secure a Euro 2020 play-off spot, is positive the national team can bounce back and attain their objective.

Asked if he had thought about standing down in the wake of the Kazakhstan loss, McLeish said: “No, not at all. This is in my genes. Listen, of course it’s hard. But I never feel I’m on a hiding to nothing or anything like that. I still feel it’s a fantastic challenge.


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“If we can do it now and qualify from this setback it will be the greatest ever. Right now everybody is telling me it’s the worst ever, but that’s what I have to believe, that we can turn it around.”

He added: “I think all the boys are honest enough to be able to look at the footage and stand up to be counted. I won’t single out any individuals, but it’s good for them to see some of the bad things.

“We did an hour-long meeting after the Israel game – and you know it can be hard to sit the modern-day player down for ten minutes - and had a really good open-air discussion. They then saw it right in the two next games.”

McLeish arrived in Rimini in Italy with his squad last night ahead of a match against San Marino in nearby Serravalle on Sunday that is likely to be meaningless to Scotland’s hopes of finishing in the top two in their section.

Results against the country which finishes bottom in six team sections are discarded at the end of a qualifying campaign.


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However, he feels the match will be invaluable to his young and inexperienced side and could help them to improve on some of the failings – not least their slack defending – that led to their downfall in Nursultan.

“That was something I never expected,” he said. “We were pretty vocal and pretty thorough in terms of talking to the players about those types of passes being played inside them.

“It was something we actually worked on to penetrate them. I guess every team does that, but we were really gutted to lose that type of goal. You always wonder if you’re going to be strong enough.

“I guess people will say ‘wait a minute, they’re ranked way, way below us,’ and we should be beating them regardless of who we play in the team. But you know when you’re not at your strongest that you can only try and make everything water-tight.”

The former Motherwell, Hibernian, Rangers, Birmingham City and Aston Villa manager insisted the raft of call-offs he had to contend with contributed to the alarming showing.


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“We obviously suffered quite a bit in terms of injuries,” said McLeish. “Losing key players made it tougher because it’s probably not a time to be blooding new players.

“We don’t really want to be at that stage of our existence, especially when a competition is coming up. But we had no choice.

“That said, we prepared well and I have to thank the performance staff for that. Everything was perfect for the players. We just couldn’t produce it on the night.”

He said: “It’s a very young squad when you look at the average age of the team. We have a lot of guys still trying to prove themselves as top players in their own leagues.

“So they have those goals as well as coming into the real furore of international football. But we have to get on with it. We have to brush ourselves down and get ready for the next game.

“In all the guys that we picked we felt their club form was very good. Obviously international football is another step. But their club form was good.

“Also look at Scott McTominay who I’ve watched recently play some good games for Man United. He’s still playing a kind of tactical game for them so we’ve still to see big Scott express himself.”