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Craig Gordon: We’ll be haunted by failure to qualify

Dejection for Scotland's Craig Gordon (left) and James McArthur at full-time
Dejection for Scotland's Craig Gordon (left) and James McArthur at full-time

Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon fears the failure to qualify for the World Cup could live with the current squad for years.

Gordon Strachan’s men needed to defeat Slovenia in order to reach next month’s play-offs but the 2-2 draw in Ljubljana saw them miss out on the runners-up spot in Group F to Slovakia on goal difference.

Scotland made a poor start to the campaign but, after a vast improvement in form which saw them come within touching distance, Gordon reckons the disappointment will be difficult to shrug off.

Gordon said: “As players, we have to move on. When we are all retired, we will all look back with disappointment at missing a big opportunity.

“We just gave ourselves too much to do in the group after the start that we made. In normal circumstances, a draw in Slovenia would have been an excellent result. We knew we needed more on Sunday night but it just wasn’t good enough.

“We didn’t create an awful lot in Slovenia. We scored a couple but we didn’t keep the ball and it was a backs-against-the-wall job at times trying to keep them out and hit on the counter.

“Losing two goals from set-plays was really disappointing because we knew they would be good on them.

“Slovenia are a big and physical team and that was a threat which we were aware of but we didn’t cope with it.”

Gordon won his 50th cap in Thursday’s 1-0 win against Slovakia at Hampden before playing in Sunday’s match in Slovenia. The Celtic goalkeeper spent two years without a club due to a succession of knee injuries, before joining the Hoops in 2014, and the former Hearts and Sunderland goalkeeper is thankful to still be playing at a high level for club and country.

The 34-year-old added: “Since I have come back from my injury, the chance to play in these types of games at international level and Champions League level is something I have had to enjoy and savour.

“I just want to keep having as many of them as possible because you don’t know when it is going to stop.”

Gordon hailed the impact of club team-mate Leigh Griffiths who has become an important figure for the Scots, with his opening goal in Slovenia his fourth goal in the last five matches.

Gordon was disappointed Griffiths’ goal was not more meaningful, adding: “Leigh’s finish in Slovenia was great and he was a nuisance to their defenders all night.

“That’s the man we want chances to drop to. When it falls on to his left foot, we always feel he’s capable. Leigh smashed it across the goalkeeper and it was a fantastic finish.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep them out at the other end to make the strike really count for him but it still a terrific goal and another example of his ability and current form.”

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