Valter Birsa, the Slovenian midfielder, says that Scotland are the toughest team his country have faced in their doomed attempt to reach Russia next summer, but he has vowed to do everything he can to end our own World Cup dreams on Sunday.

When you are cast in the role of gallant loser, as Scotland fans have so often been through the years, the words of consolation offered by the victors – invariably about how good our supporters are – can take on a hollow and patronising tone.

How refreshing it was then to hear Birsa enthusiastically extolling the virtues of Gordon Strachan’s side deep in the bowels of Wembley just minutes after a late Harry Kane goal ended his own country’s qualification prospects.

While full of respect for the Scots after their Hampden humbling, the Chievo man has warned that the Slovenians will prove a much tougher proposition on their own patch.

“Of all the matches we have played so far, the toughest was against Scotland in Glasgow,” Birsa said.

“They are a tough nation with a tough mentality. They were very aggressive and we struggled to cope. They gave us more problems than England and Slovakia.

“We lost late goals against Scotland, England and Slovakia. In two of those games we deserved better, but against Scotland we got what we deserved.

“We should have beaten England at home and drawn at Wembley. Those are the game that cost us the chance of qualification.

“In Glasgow we were beaten fair and square. Scotland should have scored more goals.

“We have no complaints about that result. There is no hard luck story. In Glasgow we produced our worst performance of the campaign.

“That was not Slovenia. We let ourselves down and I can assure Scotland it will be a different story on Sunday.

“In away games, Scotland are a bit like us. They struggle to produce the same kind of performances and don’t win many games. I think it will be a totally different game to the one in Glasgow.

“We have struggled to get results away from home. But, on our own territory we are a much more difficult team to beat.”

Birsa concedes that recovering sufficiently after putting everything into the game at Wembley only to be receive such a late punch to the gut will be a big ask.

“It is going to be tough for us to get up for the game with Scotland after such a setback, but we are capable of doing it,” he said.

“We have strong characters in the team and they will be looking to make up for the disappointment of Wembley.

“There is no doubt this was an opportunity we let slip away. It is a blow but now we must focus on Scotland.”

If Slovenia are clinging to anything as a means of motivation, then it is in the salvaging of national pride for both the players and their supporters, with Birsa vowing they will not down tools.

“Scotland have put themselves into pole position by beating Slovakia so it will be an interesting game,” he said.

“We are not the type of country who just gives somebody three points. Unfortunately, we cannot qualify but that will not stop us trying until the very end. We will be giving everything to make sure we finish on a positive note.

“Every victory in international football is important. We owe it to the other teams in the group. We are not there to make up the numbers.

“We need to show the competition respect. That is why we will be doing all we can to collect three points.

“We cannot just give up and stop playing because we can’t qualify.”