The international window saw Scotland complete their Euro qualification campaign and, from the outside, it will have looked liked it ended in a manner which mirrored the group games as a whole.
The final match ended in a 2-0 defeat to Portugal, who were already guaranteed a second-place finish behind Finland, with us lagging out of reach in third.
The campaign has seen us win only four out of the eight qualifying games, disastrously losing both home and away to the confirmed top two. Scotland also failed to score in all of the games that were lost and, despite being the better team in terms of possession and dominance, we weren’t clinical and fell short in both boxes.
However, having been fortunate enough to have been part of the squad selected for the latest trip, I know how important it was for the bigger picture.
We ended the year in a wounded state and it will take a conscious and continued focus to keep moving in the direction the team needs to if we desire to get back to performing optimally.
It is an easy cliché to say that there were plenty positives to take, and no doubt there will be some scrutiny over such claims as we progress through the year, which will definitely need to be backed up by better results.
Needless to say, nobody thinks that ending on that result against lower-ranked opposition is acceptable.
Everyone is very much aware it compounds a far-from-impressive six months for the women’s national team. As a player, it is a hard, yet honest, realisation that part of the disappointment falls directly on us.
Despite that, this trip was one that carried a different atmosphere. By the end of a week spent together, the group had already begun to make strides in establishing an environment that was more at ease off the pitch, while being more challenging and demanding on it.
Over the course of the trip, there was the acknowledgement of some “firsts” that brought more smiles to the faces of the group as a whole. Kirsty Hanson marked the Cyprus game with her first goal, after making six appearances since her debut in the opening game of the campaign back in November 2019.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) February 21, 2021
Meanwhile, Lisa Robertson earned her first cap in the same game, after she was called into the squad for her first competitive international match.
More then came against Portugal, as Sam Kerr made her first official start and Jenna Fife started in goal for her first qualification match.
The squad has the possibility of reconvening in April and June, however, that will likely be dependent on Covid restrictions.
A home-based camp may be all that will be possible, similar to that of England and Northern Ireland’s challenge match last week. Hopefully by then, a permanent head coach will also be in place.
Will SWPL1 be able to return with testing?
It is thought the top flight of Scottish Women’s Football may be about to be offered some hope of a return.
The SWF are believed to have proposed a plan which will allow club training to resume on March 1 for all teams in Scottish Women’s Premier League 1.
The proposal to let the season continue will require a number of important conditions, the first being the provision of Covid-19 PCR testing for all players and key staff.
While that demand will come at substantial weekly cost, an understandably unaffordable expense for many of the clubs outside of the top three or four, the SFA have been given £500,000 from FIFA to support the return of the women’s game.
It is yet to be confirmed whether the SFA will give the green light for these initial testing protocols to be put into action. That will then enable all teams to begin an accelerated pre-season training block, that will likely last three to four weeks in preparation for games to then follow.
As things stand, the season is only one-third of the way through and teams have only played seven games. For there to be a clear and valid league winner, at least 14 games will need to be completed before champions can be crowned.
After the 2020 campaign was voided, the SWF will be determined to find a safe way to complete this one. Rangers are joint top with Glasgow City, but have a superior goal difference.