San Marino vs Scotland preview: Alex McLeish seeking to end hurt and avoid ultimate humiliation
Watch San Marino vs Scotland on Sky Sports Football and Main Event at 5pm on Sunday
Last Updated: 24/03/19 4:32pm
Alex McLeish insists everyone in the Scotland camp is hurting after their shock defeat in Kazakhstan - but the only way they can atone is on the pitch.
McLeish was reluctant to pore over Thursday's defeat after arriving at the San Marino Stadium to train on the eve of Scotland's second European Qualifier.
San Marino have scored just once since 2016, are bottom of the world rankings at 211 and were thrashed 5-0 in their opening Euro 2020 qualifying game against Cyprus in Group I.
The Scotland manager said: "The only apology we can give the fans is to go out and win the next game. We are all hurting. We're fans as well. I followed the team as a young man and I was always proud to wear the jersey. And these guys are as well.
"They don't mean to play badly. They don't mean to have one off-night. In recent months they have shown some great skills, some great results, and we just need to continue with a little bit of continuity in terms of selection of the squad.
"We have to win. I'm not going to say, 'Guys, we have to win this 10-0 or I'll be looking for new players'. We'll try to win the game and we're confident about doing that.
"We've got young players coming into the team and learning the harsh facts of international football.
"I've spoken to one or two individually and a lot of them are pretty devastated about the result [against Kazakhstan], as we all are."
San Marino are yet to add to their solitary victory to date against Liechtenstein back in 2004.
But McLeish, 58, believes a first three points of the qualifying campaign would provide a much-needed morale boost after their chastening night in Astana.
And the trip to the 6,664-capacity Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle should not be a daunting one, given that Scotland have won each of their six previous meetings against San Marino in all competitions, scoring 19 times without reply.
Scotland have not lost consecutive competitive games since November 2016, and while McLeish acknowledges they are likely to avoid that fate, they must produce a performance in order to silence the critics.
"You can't avoid [the criticism]," he added. "I've been in the game a lot of years and you have to take the good with the bad.
"I've had a lot of success. When you have the reverse, and there's a bit of negativity, the best thing to get rid of that is by winning the next game.
"I don't see any reason why we can't make it better. The group stage is a long process, all is not lost. There will be other trip-ups in this group stage."
Ahead of facing a side that has conceded 39 goals in their last 10 competitive games, McLeish will be tempted to make a statement by shuffling his team.
Graeme Shinnie will be replaced by Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson, who returns after missing the 3-0 opening loss to Kazakhstan due to dental surgery.
Callum Paterson and Ryan Fraser are also available after their clubs refused to let them play on Thursday's plastic pitch.
- Scotland have won 2-0 in each of their three previous visits to San Marino, most recently in October 2000 thanks to goals from Matt Elliot and Don Hutchison under manager Craig Brown.
- Excluding the other Home Nations, against no other side have Scotland recorded more competitive victories than their six versus San Marino (also six vs Iceland, Faroe Islands and Lithuania).
- Scotland have lost four of their last five away games in all competitions, but won 4-0 against Albania in the Nations League in November.
- Since a 0-0 draw with Estonia in November 2014, San Marino have lost 28 consecutive games in all competitions by an aggregate score of 120-3.
- None of Scotland's 21 games under Alex McLeish across his two spells as manager have finished level (W11 D0 L10).
- Each of Scotland's last five goals have been scored by James Forrest.
Charlie Nicholas' prediction
Scotland have never really looked at themselves and taken their games for granted, but that's allowed on this occasion. Scotland have been in this position a couple of times and come away with a comfortable win. The midfielders will control this, and we will get off to a decent start in a routine victory.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: San Marino 0-3 Scotland