ALEX McLeish attempted to invoke the spirit of the Scotland rugby team who had come from 31-0 down to England to draw their final Six Nations game at Twickenham last weekend when he addressed his players at half-time in Kazakhstan on Thursday night.

But his words failed to produce a similar comeback and James Forrest just ended up with a grand slam of failures in the Central Asian nation at the end of a demoralising 90 minutes.

Forrest, though, is refusing to be despondent about the country's chances of qualifying for the Euro 2020 finals after failing to win in at the Astana Arena for the fourth occasion in his career.

Trudging off the artificial surface at the futuristic £140 million stadium on Thursday evening having been unable to record a victory was a familiar feeling for the Celtic winger.


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He had played at the venue on three occasions in Champions qualifiers previously – against Shakhter Karagandy back in 2013 and Astana in 2016 and 2017 – and had lost twice and drawn once.

However, on each occasion the Parkhead club progressed to the lucrative group stages of Europe’s premier club competition.

The 27-year-old, who had scored five goals in his previous two international appearances against Albania and Israel last year, admitted the national team’s performance had not been anywhere near good enough.

However, he remains confident that Alex McLeish’s charges can put the humiliation behind them, finish in the top two in their section and book a place in the Euro 2020 finals given his past experiences.

“It couldn’t have gone worse with it being the first game of the campaign,” he said. “It’s really disappointing. We have to try and lift ourselves and take three points forward on Sunday.


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“The last camp was probably the best time I’d ever had being away with Scotland - there was a real feelgood factor and now we’ve had this terrible night and we have to pick ourselves up.

“We were all right for the first few minutes, but it meant nothing after they scored and then scored again not long after the first one. From there, they grew in confidence and we didn’t get started at all.

“But I’ve been here a few of times with Celtic and it felt similar to that time we were 4-1 down (in 2017) - they scored and grew in confidence and we were sloppy in possession and just never really got going.

“I’ve been here a few times so I knew what I’m going into. A lot of people won’t know their players, but they are still a good team. They grew in confidence after scoring those two goals early.


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“We can talk but everyone was here and felt good and were working on things, but we just never got going.”

Forrest added: “Obviously, after the last camp we topped the group in the last couple of games and got there and it proves we’ve got the players.

“We’ve just got to show it more on the park. We didn’t do that against Kazakhstan, but hopefully we can redeem ourselves on Sunday and then we’ve got two games in the summer to kick start what we didn’t start tonight.”