Scotland manager George Burley has insisted his squad can pick themselves up from a chastening 3-0 defeat by the Netherlands and claim the win they desperately need against Iceland on Wednesday.
Although there were positive elements to the Scots' display in the Amsterdam ArenA on Saturday, morale will have been hit by the poor defending that helped Holland kill the World Cup qualifier with first-half headers from Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie. However, Burley had always emphasised that anything Scotland could pick up in Amsterdam would be a bonus.
"The home games are all must-win games," he added. "That has not changed and it is a massive game against Iceland on Wednesday."
Although stand-in centre-half Christophe Berra acquitted himself well on his first start for his country, Burley will hope that Celtic captain Stephen McManus recovers from an ankle injury to start against the Icelanders. Right-back Graham Alexander, who was given a torrid time by Arjen Robben, will make way for Alan Hutton, who looked far sharper in a brief second-half appearance. "I wish Alan had another game under his belt but he showed he is raring to go," Burley said.
The home games are all must-win games. That has not changed and it is a massive game against Iceland on Wednesday.
Holland have now beaten all four of their rivals in Group 9 and another victory over Macedonia on Wednesday would virtually assure them of a place in next year's finals in South Africa. Their superiority was underlined by the fact that their coach, Bert van Marwijk, was able to rate his side's performance as "only so-so," although he was prepared to give Arjen Robben high individual marks.
"I think Arjen Robben was the key player for us," he said. "I chose him ahead of Wesley Sneijder beacuse I thought his speed would pose problems for Scotland and I was very happy with how he played. We could have scored more of course but you have to be happy with the result."
Scotland's evening could have been different if Miller had taken an early chance created for him by Darren Fletcher. A moment's hestitation from the Rangers striker proved critical and gave defender Joris Mathijsen the opportunity to get in a last-ditch block. "The higher you go in football, when you get your opportunities you have to take them," Burley reflected ruefully, although he was more vexed by the manner in which Scotland conceded the first two goals.
On the first, Gary Teale got dragged out of position with the result that Marc van Bommel was unchallenged as he floated in a cross that Huntelaar headed home. The second followed on the stroke of half-time. A corner on the right was curled in to the near post by Robben, van Persie's run went untracked and the Arsenal man outjumped to head in his 13th international goal.
"The first goal was a free header which was disappointing," Burley acknowledged. "The second goal was a very good delivery but Allan McGregor was blocked a bit by one of their players."
McGregor, the Rangers goalkeeper promoted by Burley because of regular number one Craig Gordon's lack of action for Sunderland, produced fine stops to prevent first Kuyt and then Robben from adding to the Dutch score early in the second half. Having also come off his line to thwart Robben in the opening period, McGregor may have done enough to retain his place for the Iceland match, although Burley refused to rule out a recall for Gordon.
"Every game you look at it," was all Burley would say. "Allan did well but Craig has never let us down. We've got two outstanding keepers."