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Sneddon is delivering for Scotland . . . on and off the pitch

MEGAN SNEDDON, the Scotland midfielder, has set her heart on playing in a major championship finals, and today at the picturesque Bilino Polje stadium in Zenica, the home of NK Celik, she hopes to take another significant step towards her dream.

On the face of it Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were beaten 7-0 at Fir Park earlier in Group 4, do not represent the biggest hurdle between Scotland and next year's World Cup in Canada. Nevertheless, group favourites Sweden needed a penalty to win 1-0 when they visited in October.

"It's often more difficult to play countries who aren't given a chance, have nothing to lose, and will pack players behnd the ball," Sneddon points out. "But we've got off to the best start with five wins out of five and we have to maintain that to keep the pressure on Sweden."

The 28-year-old is expected to win her 125th cap today, and is one of the main beneficiaries of a Scottish government award aimed at helping the side reach the World Cup.

A postal worker in East Kilbride, the 28-year-old was on a gruelling treadmill of work and football commitments until January. Now, with the postie duties cut back to two days a week, she is getting time to step up her fitness regime and also, and just as importantly, rest.

"Before I was rushing about everywhere," she says. "I would go to work for 6am, deliver letters and parcels for eight hours, and then do a strength and conditioning session before heading for club training. And that's not counting things like shopping and housework.

"It was ridiculous. Now I can sit down and work my day out, plus have my meals at the correct times. There is actually time to rest, which there wasn't before."

Because of her age Sneddon is one of a decreasing number of domestic players in the Scotland squad. The younger players are being offered professional contracts in other countries, opportunities which were not available when Sneddon, captain Gemma Fay and Glasgow City midfielders Jo Love and Leanne Ross were at the same stage in their careers. "It's great that the young players now are getting the opportunity," she says. "At their age I would have grabbed it with both hands - but I bought a house early and I've been in the same job for ten years.

"I've tied myself into a situation that would make taking a one-year contract - what most of the players are getting - a huge financial risk."

Having twice missed out on European Championship qualification by the narrowest of margins - against Russia in 2008 and again in Madrid 18 months ago - what keeps Sneddon motivated is the prospect of playing in the finals of a major tournament.

"It's the only thing that is missing for me - the last box I need to tick," she smiles. "We have been so close to it twice now and I can't explain how horrible a feeling it is not to get there. It doesn't just hurt for a short time - sometimes you're talking years."

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