The last manager to take Scotland’s national men’s team to a World Cup said Ukraine deserve “cheer and encouragement” following their 3-1 win in Wednesday night’s play-off.

The Ukrainian team had not played a competitive match since November 2021 and had originally been due to meet Scotland in the semi-finals of the World Cup play-offs in March, but this had to be postponed due to the war.

If Ukraine win against Wales on Sunday, they will qualify for a place at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Craig Brown - Scotland manager
Craig Brown said Ukraine deserved some cheer (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Craig Brown took Scotland to the 1998 World Cup in France when he managed the team between 1993 and 2001.

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Thursday, he told the show “it wasn’t too bad” to lose to Ukraine due to the Russian invasion in March.

He said:”I’ve got to say this in fairness. If we’re going to lose to anyone, I think to lose to Ukraine wasn’t too bad because of the state their country is in at the moment.

“We never want to lose a football match, especially a competitive one with a lot at stake, but if we’ve to lose I think most people would say that ‘well, if we’re to lose, Ukraine deserve a wee bit of cheer and a wee bit of encouragement these days the way things are in the country’.”

Mr Brown said that he remains “hugely optimistic” about the team.

He said: “I’m hugely optimistic about the future, although desperately disappointed.

“Steve Clarke is an outstanding football manager, he’s got a good staff and he’s got a very good, healthy group of players at the right age.

“We were outclassed last night but that happens. Usually the best player wins the match. Unfortunately for Scotland we weren’t at our best last night and Ukraine deservedly beat us.”