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Rachel Corsie: Scotland Women round off difficult year on a positive note with wins and debuts

Rachel Corsie captained Scotland to a win against Venezuela in their final game of 2022. Image: Supplied by SFA.
Rachel Corsie captained Scotland to a win against Venezuela in their final game of 2022. Image: Supplied by SFA.

After a difficult year, it was great to sign off Scotland duty for 2022 on a positive note – with wins and senior debuts.

Last week we were based in Spain and, on Saturday, we played Panama in our first game since our World Cup qualifying disappointment, before another friendly against Venezuela on Monday.

We knew this window would be used to give young players a chance – and that was exactly what happened when Pedro Martinez Losa fielded an under-23s squad against Panama.

Erin Cuthbert – who was one of the five over-23s who started in that game – was given the armband and led the young-team to a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Abi Harrison and Jenna Clark.

It was a senior side who beat Venezuela 2-1 on Monday evening as Kelly Clark and Claire Emslie gave us a 2-0 lead before the South American side pulled one back through Deyna Castellano.

Not only did we win, but two players made their senior Scotland debuts against Venezuela as Rangers’ Brogan Hay, 23, and 19-year-old Hearts midfielder Rebecca McAllister came on as second-half substitutes.

Rangers’ Brogan Hay, left, made her senior Scotland debut against Venezuela. Image: Shutterstock.

It was really important for those young players – like Brogan and Rebecca – primarily because they play in Scotland, so coming away with the national team was an opportunity to test themselves at a higher level with more intensity.

It was really encouraging to hear the players – old and new – say they enjoyed the challenges of a hard-grafting week on the training pitch and during the matches.

We had to win those games – it made sure we rounded the year off on a positive note, which was really important for us as a squad.

Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond

There are a good couple months of club football which will happen between now and the next time that the Scotland squad will be together, so hopefully having had an insight into a camp the young ones feel encouraged to keep pushing on.

We have to look forward to 2023 – and beyond – as we have a Nations League campaign to prepare for and a European Championships in 2025 we want to play at.

Next year will be about balancing those commitments with rewarding players who are pushing themselves at a high club level with an opportunity to come in and stake their claim for Scotland.

It’s important to make sure that those players who are coming in are sustaining that high level because international football is really intense and you need to be in peak physical condition.

We’ll next come together as a squad in February/March time which is an international window that I know a lot of the players often look forward to.

Everyone earmarks that as a camp you want to make sure you’re in because it’s an opportunity to play more games for your country in a short space of time thanks to the Pinatar Cup.

We can look forward to that and it’ll be a competitive selection.

The young players have had an opportunity now to see what Scotland is all about, but we also have senior players who will want to be back in contention.

A test of two SWPL 1 heavyweights

A clash at the top of SWPL 1 is the pick of the games this weekend as reigning champions Rangers go to face 15-time league champions Glasgow City.

Both teams have 100% records so far after nine games, but I would say that Rangers go into the game as favourites as they’ve performed consistently better this season.

One thing Rangers won’t be comfortable with is that the game is at Petershill Park and City have made that a bit of a fortress.

That probably levels the game up a bit – it’s a tighter pitch which might not lend itself to the way that Rangers like to play.

This is only match-day 10, so it’s not going to be a title-decider, and because of the split it’s safe to say that the two sides will play each other three more times this season.

But there is pressure for both teams as Rangers will want to prove their worth as champions, while City will want to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Rangers won SWPL 1 for the first time last season. Image: Shutterstock.

At the other end of the table, Aberdeen Women will be looking to secure back-to-back wins after their first win of the season against Glasgow Women last month.

It’s a shame they have had to wait so long for their next league game, but it means they have had plenty of time to get important work done.

Motherwell have only picked up one point from their last four games, so it’s a massive opportunity for Aberdeen to get that win.

If they do that it lifts them right back in among it – and it takes the pressure off – before another important game against Dundee United next week.

Villa Park opportunity vital

This weekend is a massive one in WSL as three teams take to the pitch at their clubs’ main stadiums – including my own team, Aston Villa.

Arsenal host Manchester United at Emirates on Saturday evening, with more than 35,000 tickets sold, while Chelsea face Spurs at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

We return to Villa Park on Sunday afternoon to face Reading, having played there once already this season in our opening day win against Man City.

Aston Villa celebrate in front of the Villa Park crowd. Image: Shutterstock.

Playing games at the main stadium – which it should be called, and not the “men’s” stadium – is important for the stature of the game.

If we want the women’s game to get where it can be – and where it maybe already should be – then playing at the main stadium helps showcase the quality of the product.

I look forward to playing in every game, but ones likes this weekend do bring that extra bit of excitement and pre-match butterflies.