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Scotland can handle qualifying expectations

Lisa Evans (L) shares a joke with Kim Little following victory over Cyprus
Lisa Evans (L) shares a joke with Kim Little following victory over Cyprus

Kim Little reckons Scotland can handle the new expectation of being favourites to qualify for major tournaments.

The Scots started their European Championship qualifying campaign with a comfortable 8-0 win over Cyprus on Friday night and come in to the group as top seeds.

They have now qualified for back-to-back tournaments – Euro 2017 and the 2019 World Cup in France – and there is an expectation within the squad that they should make it three by booking their place in England.

Little said: “We came in as top seeds in this group and we need to back that up, win the games we should win. We’ve got a bit of time before our next game but it was a good way to start.

“We’ve got more high pressure situations to learn from. Playing on that kind of stage makes you gain experience and knowledge you didn’t have that before. We’ve been together as a team for a while and we’re still building.

“Our aim is to qualify for the next tournament but to do it in a way – we’re the top seeds but we want to go there and challenge to get out of the group.”

Little, from Mintlaw, was in imperious form on Friday night, scoring five at Easter Road as she capitalised on some poor Cypriot defending.

She added: “I’ve not scored five in a game since I was maybe 10 years old. It was nice to get the five goals. In terms of the result, not conceding and scoring some really good goals, it was what we wanted. We were a bit sloppy at times but, when you have that much possession, sometimes that happens.”

Friday’s game was the first time the squad had been together since the World Cup, which ended in acrimony with a 3-3 draw with Argentina eliminating them from the competition.

Scotland were unable to win a game in France, with defeats to England and Japan earlier in the group putting paid to their chances. The talk since then has been dominated by the manner of their post-tournament in debrief, with some players reportedly left considering their future after being reduced to tears by the management team.

Little said: “We had time off and went back to our clubs. But then, when we met up on Monday, our focus turns to the next campaign, which is a quick turnaround considering our last game was a World Cup match.

“It’s a great way to put that behind us and move on – it’s about gaining experience and using that to move forward.”

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