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Scotland Women get ready to kick off World Cup qualifying campaign against Hungary

Head coach Pedro Martinez Losa aiming for World Cup qualification success
Head coach Pedro Martinez Losa aiming for World Cup qualification success

Pedro Martinez Losa will take charge of the women’s national team for the first time when they take on Hungary in Budapest on Friday evening as they look to qualify for the 2023 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

The team will be looking to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of not qualifying for the rescheduled European Championships while also hoping to make back-to-back World Cup appearances.

Scotland’s qualifying group also includes Spain, Ukraine and the Faroe Islands. Martinez Losa insists his side must start the qualifiers strongly if they want to achieve their goals of topping their group.

He said: “We have to go game by game. We will try to aim for first position.

“We are aware that first position is difficult but only if you dream and work for the first position, maybe you get the second but if you aim for second you maybe get third so will aim to win every match and will recap after every match.

“Let’s try to be first and if we are just second at the end, we will deal with that.”

The ex-Arsenal women coach is looking forward to the campaign and is relishing the opportunity to play his native Spain.

He said: “The most exciting thing for me is to create the identity of this team, to connect with the players, the staff and make the most of the team and the performances, to create something really special for Scotland.

“But of course, I am Spanish and when we play against Spain, I will have extra motivation of course to beat them and prove what Scotland can do.”

A strong squad

Scotland will be looking to replicate the score line from their last fixture against Hungary in 2017 when they won 3-0. The goal scorers that day were Lana Clelland, Claire Emslie and Jane Ross who have all been called up for this round of qualifying.

Martinez Losa has named a strong squad but will be without the experienced Kim Little after she announced her retirement from international football earlier this month.

The squad will also be without Caroline Weir after the Manchester City midfielder suffered a minor knee injury while playing for her club. Everton’s Lucy Graham and West Ham’s Lisa Evans have also withdrawn from the squad due to injury.

The WSL trio were replaced by Hibernian’s Rachel Boyle, Rangers forward Lizzie Arnott and Glasgow City’s Jenna Clark.

Aberdonian Rachel Corsie will once again be given the captain’s armband and will be looking to prove herself on the international stage after missing out on a place in Team GB’s football squad at the Tokyo Olympics.

Rachel Corsie during a Scotland womens’ national team training

Another local player could feature as Stonehaven’s Christy Grimshaw has been called up and will be looking to get her first competitive cap against Hungary after featuring in two friendlies earlier this summer.

Grimshaw made her debut for the national team in a 1-0 friendly win against Northern Ireland in June. The AC Milan forward will be looking to be named in the starting eleven but will face tough competition after Jane Ross was recalled to the squad.

Jane Ross made the move to Rangers from Manchester United in the hope of getting more game time and has already scored five goals in three competitive SWPL games. The striker is a proven international goal scorer having scored 62 goals in 136 Scotland appearances.

The SWPL1 is well represented throughout the squad selection with ten players from the league being called up. Rangers’ dominance in the squad is evident as seven of the eleven domestic players hail from the Glasgow club.

Losa has made also additions to his backroom staff as former international midfielder Leanne Ross has joined up with the squad as a coach. Ross, who is Scotland’s most decorated player, will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge thanks to her 133 international caps.

The home fixture against the Faroe Islands is looking to be a record-breaking attendance for a SWNT qualifying match at Hampden.

The national squad was last in competitive action as they were beaten 2-0 by Portugal in Lisbon in a European Qualifier match.

On the occasion, Martinez Losa said: “It is a unique opportunity for all of us and the girls are all really excited to prove themselves, to play at Hampden.

“What we are hoping to do is connect with a lot of fans and have a lot of fans in the stadium to have the 12th player who can make a difference.”

The game against Hungary kicks off at 7pm on Friday night and will be shown live on BBC Alba with coverage starting at 6.50pm.

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