Scotland Women will play their final two qualification games for Euro 2021 later this month. The camp will wrap up a disappointing campaign – Scotland’s worst in their last four attempts.
Having qualified for the 2017 tournament and after narrowly missing out in the play-offs for both the 2013 and 2009 events, the outcome is certainly below par. Not to mention, for the first time, Scotland were also seeded in pot one in the draw.
Dwelling on things offers no salvation, and the focus will now need to be on the next opportunity, which will come in the form of a World Cup campaign which will begin around August time.
These two games will now be considered as the beginning of a fresh start. They are a huge chance to collectively reflect and instill some kind of reform, as the team will come together again for the first time since qualification moved out of reach.
Inevitably there will still be some residual heartache from the previous camp, as since the squad dispersed back in December, we are yet to have reunited in the same room again. However, the players understand the importance of getting back in the Scotland team environment and will relish being part of the push for form and hopefully greater successes.
The remaining fixtures mean a trip to Cyprus, who we beat 8-0 at home in the opening round of qualification 18 months ago.
That will be followed by what was supposed to be a home tie with Portugal, which will now also be played in Cyprus due to travel restrictions.
UEFA have stressed the importance of ensuring all the remaining fixtures are completed during this window, as play-off games are still needed to complete the list of teams heading for the final tournament in England in summer 2022.
Despite the finals still being more than 12 months away, World Cup qualification will take precedence come August and the FIFA international calendar only has limited dates available to get things wrapped up.
Losing out on home advantage will still likely be detrimental to Portugal, despite there being no fans allowed into stadiums at the moment, and this will add to the pressure for us to get a result. While qualification may be out the question, a win still carries vital ranking points after three consecutive defeats.
The rankings will be updated ahead of the World Cup qualification draw and we want Scotland to remain in a pot which gives the team a better chance qualifying.
New interim manager, Stuart McLaren, is expected to announce the squad for our upcoming camp next week and he will take charge of the team going into these games.