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Burley remains upbeat despite defeat

SoccerNews in World Cup 7 Sep 2008

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George Burley does not believe Scotland's midweek trip to Iceland is a must-win game despite losing their opening World Cup qualifying game.

The Scotland manager watched his team go down 1-0 to Macedonia in sweltering conditions with temperatures soaring to 35 degrees.

Burley has targeted 17 points from his Group Nine matches as the minimum needed to qualify for the World Cup.

But he remains upbeat about Scotland's chances of getting to South Africa in 2010 and believes they can pick up points away to Iceland on Wednesday if his players put in a committed performance.

Burley said: “In every game you are always looking to pick points up. Of course you want to try and get as many early in the campaign, but it wasn't to be. It's like anything – you keep going to the very end but you don't always get what you deserve.

“I think we showed in the second-half against Macedonia that we are capable of picking up points away from home so we've got to build on that. It was our first World Cup game and we always knew it was going to be a tough game.

“With a little bit of a break we certainly would have got at least a point in the second-half. We've got to keep battling away and if they show the same commitment and pride against Iceland as they did against Macedonia in the second-half then I couldn't ask for any more.”

Some of Scotland's players seemed to struggle in the heat with Celtic's Barry Robson appearing to pick up an injury before he was replaced by Shaun Maloney.

But Burley said he did not expect him to be missing for the match against Iceland.

“There were a few knocks. Playing in 95 to 100 degrees you've got to show a lot of character and we utilised all our substitutions.

“We have our fingers crossed that he's not too bad for Wednesday.

Macedonia took the lead with their first effort of the game in the fifth minute following a controversial free-kick won by Goran Maznov after he appeared to go down easily following a challenge from Stephen McManus.

Captain Goce Sedloski hit the free-kick from 25 yards out with power and pace which Craig Gordon did well to turn onto the post but Ilco Naumoski reacted quickest to knock the rebound into the net.

In the 30th minute James McFadden had Scotland's first real chance of the game when he cut in from the right side of the box but he delayed too much and his effort was eventually blocked by a defender.

Caldwell saved his team from falling further behind with a brilliant last ditch tackle on Maznov in the 38th minute just as the striker was going to pull the trigger as he raced in on goal.

Only a stunning save by Gordon stopped Macedonia increasing their lead in the 56th minute.

Ipswich player Veliche Shumulikoski fired in a fierce first time shot from 22 yards out which the keeper saw late but managed to get a hand to and tip over the bar.

Gordon again saved the Scots when he blocked a Naumoski shot on the turn from six yards out in the 66th minute.

Scotland should have had a penalty in the 71st minute when the Macedonian keeper swept McFadden's feet from under him as he attempted to take the ball round him but the referee ignored the Scottish players' shouts.

Scotland pushed for an equaliser with substitute Shaun Maloney coming closest in the final minute with a drive from the edge of the box but the Macedonians held on for the win.

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