Shaun Maloney ‘did struggle’ as he helped Belgium beat Scotland

Maloney stressed that the quality of the Belgian squad had to be taken into account and thinks Scotland could yet qualify for the finals through the Nations League play-offs.

Written By: BBC/Angela Mukami
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Belgium coach Shaun Maloney admits he “did struggle” with his emotions as he helped Roberto Martinez’s side beat his home nation 4-0 at Hampden Park.

The defeat led Scotland head coach Steve Clarke to concede his side would not make the Euro 2020 finals via the qualifying group topped by Belgium.

Scouting reports from Maloney, who won 47 Scotland caps, had helped the visitors prepare for the match.

“I actually found it a lot harder than I thought I would,” he said.

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“I think I did an interview before the game and said I didn’t think I would have any issue when the anthems went, but I did start to struggle.

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“I think it’s just because that anthem meant so much to me for a long period of my career. Once the game starts, it’s obviously difficult, but my aim at that point is for Belgium to win the game.”

It was a heavier defeat than when the sides last met in Belgium in June, but Maloney saw positive signs from Clarke’s side since that 3-0 reverse against the world’s top-ranked side.

“There definitely has been progress in certain areas,” the former Celtic, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa midfielder told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound. “You could see changes in the defensive organisation and without the ball.

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“It is just obviously, when we play and individuals do things like in the last game, it’s very difficult for teams to defend against for a full match.”

‘Overreaction’ to Scotland defeat

Maloney stressed that the quality of the Belgian squad had to be taken into account and thinks Scotland could yet qualify for the finals through the Nations League play-offs.

“Some of the things the players do in training and the demands they put on us as coaches in real high level,” he said.

“There are individual things within the game that are just exceptional. These things are just amazing to watch.”

Clarke has only been in charge of Scotland for four games – two against Belgium – and Maloney thinks there has been an “overreaction” to the latest defeat, which he thinks “wasn’t as comfortable” as many suggest.

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“He did an amazing job at Kilmarnock,” he said. “We have to give him time to mould his team into what he wants and that doesn’t happen in four games.

“I think the game in June was more comfortable, I felt we controlled it, but I think this one was slightly different.

“They have really good players, so when you are actually doing your preparation for them, they have some really big threats. They have players playing now at a high level down south.”

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