Scotland manager Steve Clarke insists he and his players will learn from their first major championship experience and use the pain of exiting the tournament to fuel their bid to make the 2022 World Cup.
Scotland’s first major tournament finals in 23 years ended with a 3-1 defeat to Croatia at Hampden which leaves the national team bottom of Group D and the only team in their section not to progress to the last 16.
While there was disappointment for Clarke and his players the national team boss has no doubts his players will bounce back.
He said: “This is the first tournament I’ve been involved in as well so hopefully we can all learn from it. We’re a young group and hopefully they have the desire to be at Qatar in 2022 as I certainly do.
“I don’t think it will dent them as they are a confident bunch. We know we have a big week coming up in September but first we have to go away and assess what happened so we’re ready to go again in September.
“We’ve come a long way since I became head coach. We were spanked off Belgium, were thumped as well in Russia but we’ve rebuild the squad. We have a young, hungry squad and one I believe can be very competitive over the next five or six years.”
World Cup finalists Croatia had too much quality for Scotland as their hopes of reaching the knockout phase for the first time were extinguished in clinical fashion by the slick Croats at Hampden.
While there was disappointment Clarke believes the campaign an serve as a major learning curve for everyone in the Scotland camp.
The Scotland manager told the BBC: “We’ve waited a long time to get a tournament but a good group of players got us there.
“Over the duration of the tournament there was a lot of good stuff but ultimately we didn’t get the points we needed tonight against a team you could say are tournament-hardened who knew how to play the third game in a tournament.
“Croatia are a good team, we knew that. They had a stuttering start to the tournament but they put it right tonight.
“We gave ourselves a little bit of hope with the goal at half-time but in the second half we couldn’t quite get the same.
“We kept going to the end and it was great to hear the fans cheer us on towards the end.”
Clarke believes the opening round loss to the Czech Republic proved crucial in the team’s failure to qualify from Group D.
He said: “Again, talking about tournament ready, the fact we didn’t get something from the first game meant we had to go to Wembley (to play England) and we expelled a lot of energy physically and mentally to give ourselves a chance of getting something tonight and it maybe we suffered as a result.
“It’s something we will work on for the next tournament we get to and I promise you it won’t be 23 years we have to wait for the next one.”