By Alastair Macdonald
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Scotland have improved in Steve Clarke’s first two games in charge and can get better for their European qualifiers at home to Group I favourites Belgium and Russia in three months, the coach has said.
Scotland were beaten 3-0 by a rampant Belgium in Brussels, Clarke’s first away fixture in charge, on Tuesday.
But Clarke, who was brought in last month after a rocky start to the campaign under Alex McLeish, insisted the side would only get better.
“We were competitive in that game tonight against the best team in the world,” he said. “We defend well but we have to be better when we have the ball.
“We’ve got players who can score goals. We’ve got players who can create chances. That’s not such a big issue for me.”
Despite being dominated by the Belgians, who top the FIFA rankings, Clarke felt the scoreline was harsh after the Scots held Belgium at bay until first-half injury time.
They then “fluffed their lines a bit” with three missed chances against Thibaut Courtois late in the second half to make it 2-1.
There were “a lot of positives” after Clarke’s first 10-day camp with the squad, who edged Cyprus 2-1 at home on Saturday, and the former Kilmarnock coach added another camp together would build on their momentum.
“The overall feeling that I’ve got is that we’ve grown a little bit as a squad of players already and at the next camp we should grow again,” he said.
“We’ve got two big home qualifiers against the two favourites to come out the group so we have to be ready for that.”
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald ; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)