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Rachel Corsie: I’m not sure when – or how – I’ll get over Scotland Women’s World Cup qualifying heartbreak

Scotland Women's captain Rachel Corsie in action against the Republic of Ireland at Hampden on Tuesday. (Pic by Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock)
Scotland Women's captain Rachel Corsie in action against the Republic of Ireland at Hampden on Tuesday. (Pic by Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock)

Sport can bring a heartache like no other, and the Scotland Women squad’s World Cup disappointment from Tuesday night still feels raw and painful as the gravity of the defeat sinks in.

Our 1-0 play-off final loss to the Republic of Ireland ended the qualifying campaign and shattered our hopes of returning to a major tournament and playing on the biggest stage again.

The game was like a cup final and, although nerves were understandably present, the prospect of being a solitary win away from qualification was one we were relishing in the build-up.

Over my 14 years in the national team, we’ve never lost to Republic of Ireland.

It has always been tightly fought and, although their qualifying campaign before Tuesday night went better than ours, we resolutely believed in ourselves to get the job done.

We were so desperate to win, and so confident we could do so, falling short has left a crushing, vulnerable feeling. When the full-time whistle went, it was a moment which was in equal parts empty, dark and gutting.

Scotland’s Caroline Weir looks dejected while Ireland celebrate making it 1-0 during a FIFA Women’s World Cup play-off match. (Pic: SNS)

I drove back to Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon alone and at times in silence, as my mind replayed moments from the night before.

And the reminders have continued – taking my boots and shin pads out their bag ahead of Aston Villa training on Thursday was the first time I had seen them since the game, and a few blades of grass still remained, while my match shirt is still hung up drying on the clothes horse.

Seeing the Villa girls was equally horrible – knowing everyone would greet you, but nobody would really know how you felt or what you needed to get over the disappointment. Even I don’t know in all honesty.

I’m not writing this out of a need for pity, but as an attempt to lift the lid on how much achieving success with Scotland means to me and the other players, and how devastated we are when we don’t achieve it.

We know we let an incredible opportunity to reach a major tournament for the first time since the 2019 World Cup go, and the only option for the SWNT squad now is to try to galvanise one another, and we will. But the hurt from this week will last a long time.

Having club games so quickly will be a blessing and a curse, I imagine.

You have to find a way to continue and the club structure gives you little option but to face it and keep going. Yet, suppressing those feelings of frustration, anger and disappointment won’t mean they evaporate, and there will be emotional bumps ahead.

Villa are the early weekend game, so we kick-off Saturday lunchtime, which means even less time to dwell.

Lisa Evans will be the same as she will line up for our opponents, West Ham.

West Ham’s Lisa Evans also returns to action on Saturday. (Pic: Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock)

I know the World Cup qualifying hangover will likely continue for weeks and months to come, the feeling ebbing and flowing before I – and the other players who suffered Hampden heartbreak – come through the other side.

I only know how to do things at full capacity and with all I have – and what sport gives you back for this total commitment can sometimes be excruciating.

Scotland’s Women wanted so badly to be at the 2023 World Cup next summer – for the team, for the nation, the supporters, our family and friends, and everyone else who cheers us from near and far.

There is still lots of football ahead for me and the SWNT, and many more great memories to be made.

I hope the pain of this week means better days feel even more joyful when they come around again.

Scotland captain Rachel Corsie speaks to her team-mates after they failed to secure a spot at the World Cup. (Image: PA)

Wales also know feeling of World Cup qualifying heartbreak

Wales also had their hopes shattered in their World Cup play-off final.

They faced a trip to Switzerland, and opened the scoring through Rhiannon Roberts, before Ramona Bachmann scored on half-time to level things up.

The game stayed that way despite Switzerland dominating, and headed to extra-time.

There was a late gut-punch for the Welsh, though, as Fabienne Humm scored in added-time of extra-time to send Switzerland to the 2023 World Cup and end Wales’ history-making qualification run.

Domestic leagues fire back up

The FAWSL and SWPL will be back this weekend following the international break.

North of the border, the best of the Sunday fixtures will be shown across BBC online and BBC Alba as Glasgow City travel to New Douglas Park to take on Hamilton Accies and Hibernian host Rangers.

Rangers will be looking to try to stretch their lead at the top of the table, which currently comes down to goal difference. Hibs have had a sluggish start to the season, however, it’s a fixture that could be tricky for Rangers if the home side can find some old form in order to get themselves back on track.

In the early kick-off, there could be a brief opportunity for Celtic to take pole position as they take on winless Glasgow Women, who sit rooted to the foot of the table with an already worrying goal difference.

In England, Aston Villa take on West Ham in the only Saturday game looking to maintain our perfect record so far.

The only two other sides who can maintain a perfect start are Manchester United and Arsenal, who will face Brighton and Reading, respectively, on Sunday afternoon.

Reading are one of three sides who are without a win yet and a visit from the in-form Gunners could be a test.

The other two winless sides are Manchester City and Leicester City, and they will face each other this Sunday in a battle to earn their first three points of the season.

Meanwhile, Emma Hayes will miss Chelsea’s next few fixtures as she recovers at home from emergency surgery that was required to treat her endometriosis.