Scotland coach Craig Levein unfazed by rankings drop

Craig Levein insists he is unfazed by Scotland's slip down the rankings and is concentrating on building a team that can qualify for major tournaments.

The Scots' latest fall of 16 places to 66th in the world comes after the recent friendly defeat by Brazil, who have moved up two places to third.

"My focus completely is on producing a team capable of qualifying for tournaments," said the Scotland coach.

"The way I'm going about it is, I believe, the right way to do it."

The lowly ranking could have an adverse effect for Scotland when the draw is made for the 2014 World Cup qualifying groups on 30 July in Rio de Janeiro.

And Scotland have only two games, Carling Nations Cup matches against 34th ranked Republic of Ireland and Wales (115th), before then to significantly improve their ranking and subsequent seeding in that draw.

But Levein said: "The rankings will come and go.

"We were 13th in the world at one point not so long ago. Were we the 13th best team in the world at that point? I don't think so.

"We're down to 66th. Are we the 66th team just now? I don't think so.

"I'm not worried about the system. Yes, I can understand people saying if you drop down a pot then it's harder.

"But, if you haven't got a good team, it doesn't matter which pot you're in."

Levein believes that more important than matching the Scots' October 2007 rankings high is producing a team capable of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, which would be their first major tournament since it was held in France in 1998.

"For me, it's about producing a team of quality who can beat teams from one pot or two pots above," said the coach.

"To qualify for a tournament, we're going to have to do that.

"If we're in pot three, we're still playing against two teams above us. If we're in pot four, I believe we'll be as good as any team in pot three.

"We're going to have to play good teams no matter which pot we're in.

"The most important thing to me is getting a team on the pitch capable of punching above their weight."

Scotland's rankings fall came despite February's victory over Northern Ireland, who are a place above in 65th, in their Carling Nations Cup opener.

Levein, though, insists that the training camp in the lead up to the match against Brazil and the contest itself were a worthwhile exercise.

"The more often I can get the players together, the better it is for me - that was the reason for the trip to La Manga and also for the game against Brazil," he said.

"Playing against Brazil was the right thing to do at our stage of development, to test the players - and the Brazil match in itself didn't have a huge impact on the rankings."

Levein believes that flaws in the ranking system mean that Scotland have suffered from being a smaller, five-team qualification group for Euro 2012.

Scotland's last competitive game was the 3-2 defeat by Spain at Hampden Park in October and their next is the 3 September meeting with the Czech Republic.

"I really do believe we're heading down the right road, doing the right things to enable us to qualify, not just for one tournament but for tournaments like we used to do, every two years," he added.

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