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Another win, but Swedes keep the momentum . . .

DESPITE making it seven wins out of eight in Group 4 against Northern Ireland in Belfast on Thursday night, Scotland are not yet guaranteed a place in the four-team play-offs for next summer's women's World Cup in Canada.

Anna Signeul's side could still qualify automatically, but the momentum is with top seeds Sweden, who will top the group if they win their three remaining matches. The last of these, though, is against Scotland in Gothenburg on September 17, but even a draw will be good enough for the home side if they beat Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina first.

Scotland have just two matches remaining, and need to pile on the goals against the Faroe Islands at Fir Park on September 13 if they are to keep the pressure on the Swedes. The two pacesetters have identical points totals and goal differences - but the Swedes have a game in hand.

Switzerland are the only side from the seven groups to have qualified for Canada, and look certain to be joined by Germany, Norway, England and France. In Group 2 Spain and Italy could go down to the wire, along with Sweden and Scotland.

The good news for the Scots is that the expected win against the Faroe Islands, combined with the tough fixtures facing their play-off rivals, should be enough to provide them with insurance cover ahead of the trip to Gothenburg.

The other teams in contention for play-off places are Russia, Spain/Italy, the Netherlands, Wales and Finland. "It would have been good to be guaranteed a place in the play-offs already, but looking at the games the other sides still have to play we should get there if we beat the Faroe Islands," Signeul confirmed.

The Scotland coach was full of praise for Kim Little's superb free kick in the 2-0 win over Northern Ireland on Thursday night. The Seattle Reign midfielder also set up Jane Ross for the second goal, but less pleasing was the failure to score more against a side struggling at the bottom of the group.

Scotland fell two places to 21st in the latest FIFA women's rankings published yesterday, largely because Switzerland have climbed to 19th off the back of their qualifying success. Sweden remain fifth.

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