Coach blames Scots' smaller size for flop

LJUBLJANA • Gordon Strachan refused to discuss his future and offered effusive praise for his players after Scotland's World Cup hopes were dashed by their failure to beat Slovenia in Ljubljana on Sunday.

The Scots, needing victory to secure a play-off spot, led 1-0 at half-time before conceding two goals to Slovenia with Robert Snodgrass' late equaliser ultimately proving immaterial. The 2-2 draw ensured both sides' World Cup dreams were extinguished as they fell short of making the play-offs.

Strachan's contract with the Scottish Football Association expires at the end of the qualifying campaign, leading to the assumption that the 60-year-old would leave his position as manager of his own volition.

That sense has been clouded somewhat by Scotland forcing themselves into play-off contention after a dismal start in Group F, with some members of Strachan's squad stating publicly that they want him to stay.

"You have to ask that question, but you know fine well that I'm going to say I'm the last person I'm thinking about now," said Strachan. "Players, staff and family - I want to make sure they're all right.

"So we are looking after them at the moment. Me? It's not a problem. I am really proud to be their manager."

He pinpointed the lack of height in the Scottish team as a problem, a matter which will raise eyebrows given the poor goals conceded to Slovenia. Organisation, rather than physicality, appeared the key issue.

"Technically we're fine," he said. "But our guys have to work harder to get on the ball than bigger lads.

"What I do know is that genetically, we are behind. We were the second smallest squad behind Spain. I had to pick a team to combat their height and strength.

"Even at that, we couldn't combat their height and strength at set plays. It is a problem for us.

"Physically, we have a problem against the teams we have faced in the last couple of years."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2017, with the headline 'Coach blames Scots' smaller size for flop'. Print Edition | Subscribe