Craig Levein says Scotland's FIFA World Cup™ qualifying match against Macedonia on Tuesday is a must-win game after watching his side being held to a goalless draw by Serbia at Hampden Park. The Scots failed to get their Group A campaign off to a flying start as they struggled to find a way past Sinisa Mihajlovic's side.
Levein's side face tough matches against Croatia and Belgium later on in the qualification campaign and the Scotland boss admitted his side were now under pressure to take all three points against Macedonia.
However, Levein insisted his side would not be so wasteful in front of goal again. "It probably is a must-win match. It would certainly be beneficial to win the game on Tuesday," Levein acknowledged. "But, I am more confident now than I was before the match because after that game I am disappointed we didn't win because of the chances we created.
"I look at the opportunities we had to hit Serbia in the areas where we knew they were weak and I could count half a dozen times where we didn't play almost a simple pass at times to put people in on goal. That won't happen again. Our guys will improve on that regard and that gives me encouragement that we are going to be better on Tuesday."
Against Serbia chances were few and far between in a cagey first half but Scotland had keeper Allan McGregor to thank early on when he stopped Aleksandar Kolarov's free-kick sneaking in while Vladimir Stojkovic blocked a Robert Snodgrass effort.
We did enough to win the game today but we just didn't score a goal. Even when then they had spells of pressure I didn't feel like we were going to lose a goal.
Kenny Miller, who had been favoured up front instead of Blackburn Rovers' prolific striker Jordan Rhodes, missed a host of second half chances while Aleksandar Ignjovski and Kolarov came close at the other end. Steven Naismith fired wide when one-on-one with the keeper before substitute James Forrest's stoppage time shot was parried by Stojkovic with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic clearing the danger as Scotland had to settle for a point.
While admitting he was disappointed with the draw Levein insisted his side deserved to win the match. "We did enough to win the game today but we just didn't score a goal. Even when then they had spells of pressure I didn't feel like we were going to lose a goal," the Scotland boss said. "I thought we defended really well and the question was could we get a goal. I think on the evidence of some of our players performances' today we deserved it but we didn't get it.
"You can't go back over and over the chances and wish they had gone in. That's done and all we can do is look at Serbia as a team and we have one more game against them. Would I be frightened to take them on again? No I wouldn't and I think our lads proved we have a decent chance of improving as the campaign goes on.
"I see a huge progression and I'm disappointed but I'm not down about it as the lads put on a decent show. It's a point and it gets us off to a start. It gives us an opportunity to look to Tuesday and try and move up to four points."