Scot Gemmill insisted there’s much more to come from his side after they were held to a draw by Togo in the opening game of the Toulon Tournament yesterday.
It took a headed equaliser from Everton striker Fraser Hornby to earn the Scots a point in Aubagne after falling behind to an early goal, and they now face a daunting task in their next game on Wednesday against hosts France.
Scotland laboured badly yesterday against their well-organised opponents, who were reduced to ten men in injury time when Victor Mensah was shown a second yellow card.
But Gemmill, pictured inset, is convinced the Scots will improve.
He said: “We can definitely do better. The first game of the tournament can be particularly challenging.
“There are a lot of players playing for the first time at this level. It’s about the development of the players within the team context but it’s about helping them as much as possible.
“When you concede a really early goal, you always make it difficult for yourselves. But we recovered well, created a lot of chances and should have won the game.
“The fact we haven’t is disappointing but there were a lot of positives.
“We had young players out there getting experience of going up against a team from Africa, a different culture and mentality. Last year, we started with a loss at Toulon and went on to do well.
“So we need to get our heads up and push on to the second game now.”
The African nation – managed by veteran Claude Le Roy, who is now in charge of his 11th country – sang their way into the Stade de Lattre after their arrival and their cheeriness only increased when they stunned the Scots by taking a third-minute lead.
Celtic defender Antony Ralston took a fresh-air swipe while trying to perform a routine clearance and Thomas Wogodo couldn’t believe his luck when presented with the ball in front of target and he easily converted the chance past young Parkhead keeper Ross Doohan.
Scotland, who had a very decent claim for a penalty inside the opening minute when captain Oliver Burke was barged off the ball in the box, struggled to assert themselves after that shocker of a start, but they eventually clawed their way back into the game in the 18th minute.
Hornby has been likened to a young Duncan Ferguson and the Everton starlet showed why with a superb, powering header at the back post from a Mikey Johnston deep free kick. He’s already played for the Goodison Park side’s first team this season and looks like he could be a genuine prospect.
The Scots took command now and Aberdeen’s Scott Wright and Burke were both denied in quick succession by fine saves by Togo keeper Yorgan Agblemagnon. And Scotland missed a sitter with the last kick of the first half when Hibernian’s Ryan Porteous stretched to nod Greg Taylor’s corner back across goal and St Johnstone’s Jason Kerr somehow shot straight at the keeper with a volley from a couple of yards out.
Gemmill’s side were finding it a struggle to break down the well-organised Togolese despite being camped in their half for large spells of the second half. Johnston saw a low shot tipped around the post by Agblemagnon and, from the resulting corner, Burke nodded Taylor’s delivery over the bar.
The West Brom man – who is twice Scotland’s most expensive ever player – was then denied after fine link-up play with Hornby.
It was too much for SFA performance director Malky Mackay, who was warned by the fourth official after one complaint too many. In truth, Togo – whose senior side are rated 128th in the Fifa rankings – finished stronger than the Scots as they went in search of a winner.
Togo were reduced to ten men in injury time as Mensah was given a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Ralston but Scotland rarely looked likely to conjure up a winner they scarcely deserved.