Steve Clarke points to 'excuses' which factored into Scotland's poor opening hour in defeat to Turkey

Scotland manager Steve Clarke believes the quick turnaround from arriving in Turkey to taking the pitch in Diyarbakır could be factored in as an “excuse” for his team’s 2-1 friendly loss that brought to an end a four-game unbeaten run.

Scotland's head coach Steve Clarke, left, talks to Turkey' counterpart Stefan Kuntz prior the kick-off at the Diyarbakir Stadium. (AP Photo)
Scotland's head coach Steve Clarke, left, talks to Turkey' counterpart Stefan Kuntz prior the kick-off at the Diyarbakir Stadium. (AP Photo)

Clarke admitted the display was “mixed” with “slackness” contributing to going 2-0 down inside 48 minutes before a sparkling John McGinn effort set-up a grandstand finish. The national boss conceded elements of the performance had given him food for thought before Cyprus come to Hampden for the Euro 2024 opener in March but did point to mitigating circumstances surrounding the defeat.

“It's a long trip to get here,” he said in a post-match interview with BBC Sportsound in which he said the friendly element could have contributed to a lax first half. “We had a long flight and we decided to do it in quite a short time-span. We only had 20 minutes of tactical work on the pitch yesterday which was in front of everybody that wanted to watch it. So we can make some excuses from that, but I don't want to make too many excuses. There were some things we tried on the pitch organisation-wise, set-play wise. Some of it worked and some of it didn't work. So we have to go away, analyse what we did and will hope to be much better next year."

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A simple header by a free-roaming Ozan Kabak from a free-kick five minutes before the interval - which followed Craig Gordon being required to three-times deny the hosts with fine blocks - was cited as a crucial, and uncharacteristic, lapse from his team. “The first goal just before half-time is key. If we get in at nil-nil we can tweak the team a little bit, we can do what we want to do and still be on level terms,” he said. “To defend a set play like that is poor, we know it's poor, the players know it's poor and we'll try to make sure we improve on that. It's not something we've been culpable of recently so it’s something we can work on, address and be better at.”

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