National boss Steve Clarke insists suffering World Cup qualifying agony must not derail Scotland’s recent progression.
Clarke accepts the nation will be suffering after hopes of qualifying for Qatar 2022 were extinguished.
The national coach says he is suffering, players are suffering and supporters are suffering after losing 3-1 to Ukraine in the play-off semi-final at Hampden.
Ukraine now face Wales in the play-off final in Cardiff on Sunday.
Scotland have not qualified for a World Cup since 1998 and that long drought continues.
Clarke was desperate to take the nation to the World Cup in November – but is now targeting Euro 2024 qualification.
He said: “The first thing we have to do is suffer together.
“I’m suffering, the players are suffering, the coaching staff is suffering and the supporters are suffering.
“I’m sad for the players because we wanted to go to the World Cup together.
“We shouldn’t forget we came into this game in really good shape, eight games unbeaten.
“It is important we don’t forget how far we have come over the last three years.
“We have to qualify for Euro 2024.”
‘The best team won the game’
Scotland were outplayed in every department by a dominant Ukraine side at Hampden.
Only the heroics of Scots’ keeper Craig Gordon prevented a humiliating scoreline.
Clarke’s Scots went into the clash in buoyant mood having racked up an eight game unbeaten run.
A flat, disjointed performance was light years from the impressive 2-0 World Cup qualifier defeat of Denmark in November that set up the play-off clash.
Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk struck either side of half-time to put Ukraine 2-0 up.
A long range goal from Callum McGregor in the 79th minute set up a grand stand finish.
However Artem Dovbyk netted for Ukraine on the break to seal a 3-1 win.
Clarke said: “The best team won the game.
“I’m disappointed for us.
“But sometimes the opposition play better than you and that was the case.
“We expected Ukraine to be well prepared and they were. They are a good team.”
Change made to address problems
Clarke brought on Ryan Christie for Lyndon Dykes at half-time in a bid to change the flow of the game.
However Ukraine netted soon after the restart through a Yaremchuk header at the back post in the 49th minute.
Clarke said: “We didn’t pass the ball enough in the first half and that is credit to Ukraine.
“We made a change to address that but soon after we were two goals down.
“At 2-0 down we got a foothold in the game and we created chances.
“John McGinn missed a big chance with half an hour to go.
“We scored late and when you do that it becomes a frantic chase.”
𝐔𝐊𝐑𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐄 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐃𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐈𝐓!🇺🇦
Dovbyk seals a 3-1 win for Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final against Scotland. pic.twitter.com/Dkdqm0EGPu
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) June 1, 2022
The Scots must now pick themselves up for the opening UEFA Nations League game against Armenia at Hampden on Wednesday June 8.
Clarke said: “We will analyse this and go again, try to get back on the horse.”
Ukraine manager’s pride in victory
Ukrainians watched the game in the war torn nation and 3,500 fans decked in blue and yellow were at Hampden.
This victory was not for me, it was not for our team members – it was for our country.
“This was a huge win for Ukraine. We played for people watching us back in home, for members of our armed forces in trenches and in hospitals.”
Ukraine manager Oleksandr Petrakov
That included 65 Ukranian orphans invited by the Scottish FA.
Ukraine manager Oleksandr Petrakov said: “All my emotions are left on the football pitch.
“This victory was not for me, it was not for our team members – it was for our country.
“This was a huge win for Ukraine. We played for people watching us back in home, for members of our armed forces in trenches and in hospitals.
“We return our gratitude to them. I would like to extend my gratitude to the people of Scotland. To this amazing, open, welcoming place.”