WC Countdown: Group D – Scotland

The next team in group D are the arch-rivals of EnglandScotland! They share the same wee island, but that’s about it. Since the dawn of time, England and Scotland have fought it out, on and off the football pitch, and as faith would have it they landed in the same group at the World Cup, which will make for a very exciting first game in group D.

The Scottish women’s national team and head coach Shelley Kerr has a very different squad at hand to the injury-plagued one that featured at the Euros 2017, where Scotland made an early exit after losing 0-6 to England and 1-2 to Portugal, and a 1-0 win against Spain could not save them. Their road to the World Cup in France worked out better than the Euros, but the Scots left it to the last game to secure qualification and did not make it easy for themselves. They won seven out of their eight games, but four out of those seven involved them fighting their way back from a losing position, and only on the last matchday it was confirmed that they finished above Switzerland in the group and qualified. Scotland then went to Portugal to play in the Algarve Cup in March, where they lost 0-1 to Canada, but won against Iceland 4-1 and against Denmark 1-0, in their preparations for the World Cup.

Looking at this Scottish team, there is undeniable talent in the squad. Just take young Erin Cuthbert, the 20-year-old who can’t stop scoring, for club and country. In her eighth games for Scotland in the qualification, she scored four goals, and she shares the top-scorer spot in the team with Jane Ross. Kim Little is another big name, and the creative midfielder has long been lauded s one of the best, but this will be the first time she gets to take her Scotland to a major tournament, as she was out injured for the Euros. In each of the last three qualifiers, she contributed with a vital goal, helping her team get a step closer to France. Lee Alexander is another emerging star between the goalposts, and the goalkeeper has managed to establish herself as the number one choice of coach Kerr.

Scotland women national team
Scotland WNT. Photo: Anders Henrikson

Something that has further helped develop the talent in the team, and allow them to focus on the football, is the financial help from the Scottish government, who went in with £80,00 of funding, which has enabled the squad to be full-time from January leading all the way up to the tournament in June.

“This announcement gives our home-based players an opportunity to train more, but also to rest more,” Kerr said to BBC Scotland.

“Some of them have to juggle full-time or part-time employment, or full-time education, as well as training with their clubs four or five times a week, on top of a strength and conditioning program as well.

“It is a big ask for those players who are not in a professional environment, and we need to make sure we support them as best we can. It is a huge weight off my shoulders and I know it is the same for the players.”

Midfielder Joanne Love, 32, who plays for Glasgow City is one of Scotland’s part-time players, who faces the struggle of balancing her day job with the demands of football.

“Particularly at my age, it’s getting a bit harder,” she said. “Some days I’m out the house for 12 hours between training in the morning, going to work then training at night.

“Elite athletes will tell you that you can’t go at 100mph all the time. Hopefully, I’ll find that balance and be top of my game come the World Cup.”

Shifting the focus over to Michelle “Shelley” Kerr. The former defender, who herself represented Scotland as a player, has previously managed teams such as Hibs and Arsenal on the women’s side, before becoming the first female manager in the UK to manage a men’s side when she took over Stirling University. The team constantly finished in the top five and she led them to the British Universities Championship final in 2014-15. In April 2017 she was appointed manager of the Scottish national team and have since led them to a historic first World Cup final.

Kerr is one for switching up the formations, and she’s had success with different ones. Her go-to choice seems to be the 4-2-3-1 but she is not afraid to switch it up and has also tried the 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 amongst others.

Scotland has a few games coming up, such as their game against Chile on the 5th of April 18:00 (UK time), they’re then going up against Brazil on the 8th of April, before welcoming Jamaica to Glasgow and Hampden Park on the 28th of May. The games will all be available on BBC Alba.

That concludes a little bit of insight on the Scottish squad. A lot of the buzz around this team will of course circulate around the England game, but they will also have to take on Argentina and Japan, two other big footballing nations. Do you think that the Scots can do it? Let us know in the comment section!

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