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Rachel Corsie: The Scotland Women’s group chat is buzzing after World Cup play-off draw revealed

Scotland Women could be just two games from a second consecutive Women's World Cup.
Scotland Women could be just two games from a second consecutive Women's World Cup.

The Scotland Women’s National Team completed our World Cup qualifying group stage games with a dominant 6-0 victory over the Faroe Islands to end proceedings on a positive note.

A play-off position was already guaranteed, but boosting our goal difference was still important in terms of our draw.

Following the other results in the final round of group action, we’ve given ourselves as good an opportunity of progressing to the Australia and New Zealand-hosted finals next summer as we could have.

The draw for the play-off matches took place on Friday, with nine European countries still battling to land one of the three remaining spots available to them at the finals.

In a complicated process, Switzerland, Iceland and the Republic of Ireland finished as the top three best runners-up across all of the European qualifying groups and, as a result, those teams are automatically through to three play-off final matches.

Ourselves, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Wales, and Bosnia, will have to win semi-final ties to progress to meet one of those three sides.

Wales and Bosnia made history by reaching the play-off stage of the qualification process and, should they go one step further, it will be the first time they will have qualified for any major tournament.

They have drawn each other in the first play-off semi-final match, with the winners facing a difficult tie against the top-ranked playoff team, Switzerland, in their final.

For Scotland, it is difficult not to rue our results early in the group stage which have necessitated us contesting at least two playoff rounds.

The 1-1 draw with Ukraine always felt like two points dropped and the difficult night in Spain back in November – where we lost 8-0 – also contributed to a points tally, goal difference and the route we now must take.

However, most importantly, we have made it this far and can still qualify. We have to channel all our focus into the task at hand.

The play-offs are a difficult challenge – but we are potentially only two games from a second consecutive Women’s World Cup.

We are also faced with two home matches, which is certainly favourable.

The first, our play-off semi, will be played on Thursday October 6 when we take on Austria, with the Republic of Ireland in the final on October 11, should we get through.

Home advantage is something we know can be invaluable, and we hope that in the short build-up that we have to the next international window we can rally a home support and they can fill the seats at Hampden Park.

In the other semi-final, Portugal meet Belgium for a chance to host Iceland in the last play-off final match.

Only the two highest-ranked final winners progress straight to the World Cup – with the third having to also contest an inter-continental play-off tie to secure their place.

The next few weeks of preparation will be crucial for Scotland ahead of what will be an intensive camp once the players can finally all come together in the days before the Austria play-off clash.

The players’ group chat has already been busy since the draw was made and the team is excited to have learned our fate and to focus our minds on the games which await.

Returning faces at Scotland camp was huge boost for everyone

One of the best things about the last international window was the return of Emma Mitchell and Fiona Brown.

Fi’s fourth serious knee injury came a little more than 12 months ago and her return to football this time was uncertain.

However, through her unrelenting hard work and dedication, she is back to her best level and is a huge asset to the team.

Mitchy also returned after a year-or-so out, following the birth of now-nine-month-old Innes, who she had in tow during the camp.

Having all of them with us last week lifted everyone.

Transfer record on Deadline Day

Transfer Deadline Day turned out to be full of activity following the announcement  Keira Walsh’s record-breaking move to Barcelona had been completed.

The England midfielder will join the Spanish giants after a rumoured £400,000 transfer fee was accepted by Manchester City – which sets a new record in the women’s game.

Walsh will join compatriot Lucy Bronze, who made the same move earlier this summer, as the Spanish champions hope to once again fight to be Champions of Europe.

After three failed bids for Walsh, Barcelona were forced to pay a bumper fee for the player, with the deal, once done, seeing Manchester City make an international acquirement of their own.

Although not a typical defensive midfielder, City did find a midfield replacement in Yui Hasegawa, who signs from West Ham. The midfielder starred for the Hammers last year and is one of Japan’s top young talents. She will comfortably fit the mould of the Manchester City style and is technically one of the best players in the league.

There had been some other speculation around players looking to find moves, with the most notable buzz around PSG and France midfielder Grace Geyoro. The player is under contract but did make some public suggestions a move was in her personal interests, however, her club insisted it was not on the table in the window.

My team, Aston Villa, secured Manchester United winger Kirsty Hanson for a season-long loan. United recruited heavily over the summer in attacking areas and the Scotland attacker will be hoping more game time will earn her more opportunities to be back in the international mix as well.