Euro 2016: Gordon Strachan defends Scots despite finals absence

Gordon Strachan
Gordon Strachan's side finished fourth in their qualifying group

Gordon Strachan believes his Scotland squad have proved they are better than some of the teams at Euro 2016.

"We were a unit that Poland couldn't beat," said the coach, reflecting on Scotland's failure to qualify for the finals in France.

"We were a unit that the Republic of Ireland couldn't beat, We beat Croatia twice over the last couple of years."

Scotland finished fourth behind Germany, Poland and the Irish in their qualifying group.

"It's not easy to take," Strachan told BBC Scotland. "In the 10 games we played, there's only one game we could be disappointed with.

"Things went against us, but we need to sort that out for the next campaign.

"There are teams at that tournament that we know we're as good as. There are teams at that tournament we proved we're better than.

"Poland and Germany are showing how strong they are. We were up against them.

"You don't have to produce 100 good players as Wales have proven, as Poland have proven with [Robert] Lewandowski.

"Where would Sweden be without [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic? It's just getting one or two players that make the difference."

'Players' mentality is fantastic'

Scotland players
The Scots missed out on Euro 2016 and lost two friendlies before the tournament started

Scotland last competed at a finals at the France 1998 World Cup.

But Strachan dismissed the idea that the mentality of the players could be questioned.

"Nobody can question that," he said. "Absolutely not.

"The mentality is fantastic. We just need to find the best system with the best players we've got for this next campaign.

"In life you have to take a few knocks to get somewhere. There's not a game where I've thought they could've tried harder. That's never going to be a problem.

"Look at Germany. Their first shot against us at Hampden got a deflection and went in. Two shots hit the post, comes back to their players.

"We score two wonderful goals. That can be life sometimes."

England and Slovakia make qualifying 'hard'

Qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia begins with an away tie against Malta in September, followed by Lithuania at home before crucial visits to Slovakia and England.

Slovakia held England to a 0-0 draw this week in Euro 2016, allowing both sides to qualify for the last 16 of the tournament.

"England on the whole have probably got the best squad of players," added Strachan. "Maybe Spain, France, England.

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Highlights: Slovakia 0-0 England

"So if Slovakia can draw with them, it's going to be hard.

"They're strong, physically strong. Good players. Central midfield is good, centre-halves are good - ably backed up by wingers that are tricky.

"They're going to be hard.

"It's going to be a heck of a tournament, heck of a qualifying section but we're looking forward to it."

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