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Auld Enemy in sight but Australia stand in the way

SCOTLAND play Australia in the Cyprus Women's Cup today with the prospect of a place in the final against England shimmering in the middle distance.

There are plenty of conditions - not least England requiring to beat Canada in Nicosia to win Group A. But, if that may be straightforward, it is a very different picture in Group B. Against the odds, and despite being the lowest ranked side, Scotland lead the way from France.

However, it is by the width of a thread. The two sides have four points and identical goal differences, but Anna Signeul's side have scored one goal more.

So tight is the group that if Scotland and France both lose, Australia or the Netherlands - who play the French - could yet top it.

"It would be amazing to meet England in the final," said Leanne Ross, the midfielder who got Scotland's tournament off to a flying start with her early goal against France. "We've played them in the Cyprus Cup before and always had good games against them.

"But we can't afford to look that far ahead. It's just a dream unless we beat Australia - and even then it's not guaranteed. We're 100% focused on that game."

Australia are ranked ninth in the world and reached the quarter-finals of the last two World Cups. Their new coach is Hesterine de Reus, who played international football for the Netherlands alongside Signeul's predecessor, Vera Pauw.

The latter was in charge of Scotland in 2003 when they lost 1-0 at home to Australia in the only previous women's match between the two countries. "Australia are a strong physical team so we know we're in for another tough game," Ross admitted.

The 32-year-old won her 100th cap against Chile in December and has scored three goals in Scotland's opening four World Cup qualifiers.

"Towards the end of Euro 2013 qualifying I thought I might not reach 100 caps," she said. "But I'm now fitter than I have ever been."

Scotland's game today is in Larnaca, with the final scheduled for Nicosia on Wednesday.

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Football

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