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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 12:40 GMT
McLeish buoyed by Scots promise
Scotland manager Alex McLeish
McLeish's frustration is tempered with promise for Scotland's future
Scotland manager Alex McLeish has predicted a bright future for his side after their heartbreaking failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

A 2-1 loss to World Cup holders Italy ended Scotland's hopes in a tough group which also included runners-up France.

"We live for these kind of games and it's unfortunate that we won't be at Austria and Switzerland," said McLeish.

"But I think we gave some of the big teams a fright. This group of players have got years ahead of them."

McLeish was frustrated by Italy's late winner at Hampden Park on Saturday as the goal came from a dubious free-kick decision by Spanish referee Manuel Gonzalez.

A draw would have left Scotland needing Ukraine to beat France on Wednesday to qualify, with Italy expected to beat the Faroe Islands in their final qualifier to secure their place.

McLeish felt Scotland deserved at least a point against Italy but can take solace in the fact that their showing in Group B should help their World Cup qualification seeding.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Scotland are currently 13th in the world rankings and should be in the second group of seeds when the draw for teams bidding to reach the tournament in South Africa in 2010 takes place on Sunday, 25 November.

The seedings will be based on the November Fifa rankings which are released on Friday, 23 November.

"The players are going to grow in stature, technical ability and mental toughness," added McLeish.

"We've got to go forward with positivity. It's human nature to be disappointed by this but not for too long.

"Let's keep moving forward because we have given the Scottish game a shot in the arm."

Scotland striker James McFadden almost netted a late winner and a spot at Euro 2008 but missed an open goal as he strived to meet a low cross which arrived just too fast for him.

"It would have probably still have been a long shot had we drawn," said McLeish.

"If Faddy's chance goes in, it wouldn't have mattered. The draw wouldn't have been the worst for us but certainly a defeat was not deserved for the Scotland camp.

"I'm really proud of the players for fighting back. They have shown before they can come back from a setback and they did it yet again.

"For the last 10 or 15 minutes, we had the Italians on the ropes. I really felt that we were going to get it. At Faddy's chance, my life flashed before me and I thought we were going to Austria and Switzerland.

"But it's a fine line. Italy are a good team, and we wish them luck, but I thought they got a little bit of luck."



SEE ALSO
Alan Hansen's view
18 Nov 07 |  Football
McLeish anger at Italian winner
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Scotland 1-2 Italy
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Scotland set new benchmark
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Euro 2008 qualifying as it happened
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals
International football photos
17 Nov 07 |  Football
Euro 2008 tables
12 Nov 07 |  Internationals


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