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Scotland 'can hold our heads up high' after World Cup efforts - Leigh Griffiths

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Gordon Strachan blamed genetics after Scotland missed out on World Cup qualification for a fifth straight cycle.

Leigh Griffiths says Scotland can hold their heads up high as they suffered World Cup heartbreak in Slovenia.

A 2-2 draw in the final round of qualifying games means that Gordon Strachan's side miss out on second place to Slovakia on goal difference, extending their absence from major tournaments beyond the 20-year mark.

Celtic striker Griffiths had given the Scots a half-time lead but Roman Bezjak's double put Slovenia in front before Robert Snodgrass equalised late on.

They could not find a winner, though, and Griffiths told Sky Sports: "We put so much into qualifying, in the last four or five games we have been outstanding and we just needed that one final push. The goals we conceded were sloppy and then we get the equaliser and then we should have got one at the end.

"It was always going to happen at some point, we were going to be put under pressure, they are the home team, they were going to come forward and they wanted to win the game. It's disappointing, but we can hold our heads up high, for the last four or five games we've been great.

"[The manager] couldn't ask for any more, we have played 90 minutes twice in a matter of days and to still keep running at the end to try and prove people wrong is a credit to the boys.''

After the game, Strachan insisted now is not the time to talk about his future. He appeared certain to leave his position midway through the campaign, but a strong finish has raised the possibility of him staying on in the role.

"At this moment, I am the last person thinking about that,'' he said. "I have got to look after the players. We are hurting, no one is hurting like the players, it's impossible.

"The fans can't hurt like that, I can't hurt. There shouldn't be any talk about what I'm thinking or what I'm doing at this moment in time because I am just looking after them.''

The former Celtic and Southampton manager said his players were crestfallen at finishing just short and hopes they will learn from the painful experience.

"Hopefully nobody in sport will have to feel like these guys are feeling at the moment,'' he added. "Sometimes in life you have to hurt badly before you achieve things.

"They can be really proud of themselves and it is an honour to be their coach. I have been lucky enough to achieve things with other groups of lads but these have achieved as much as anybody.

"I have never been in a dressing room as silent as that. That was a real hurting silent. I really have to thank them for the effort they have put in.''


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