SCOTLAND'S latest foreign national coach will take up her job at Hampden on March 1.

Anna Signeul, a 43-year-old Swede, replaces Vera Pauw as manager of the Scottish women's team.

Pauw, who is from Holland, was as unqualified a success as the German, Berti Vogts, was a failure with the men's side. Signeul inherits a young but experienced squad who Pauw lifted into the top tier of European nations.

Even so, the immediate task facing Signeul is a tough one. Scotland, under the different Fifa rules for women, have never before been in a position to qualify for the finals of the World Cup. Now, they will join 19 other European countries in the qualification scramble for just four places.

The draw takes place on March 18, and Scotland could be in the same group as Signeul's country. The former Swedish Premier League midfielder joins the SFA from her own national federation where she was the head coach for girls' youth teams.

There, her achievements included winning the under-18 European Championship. The Swedes are highly supportive of women's football, and when they played Germany in the final of the last World Cup, the television audience was 3.5 million.

Coming to a country where media and public interest in the sport is still low must be a risk, but Signeul points out: "I applied for the job because I wanted to be the national coach of a senior team.

"I was in a job I loved, which included working with the best players in Sweden. The media are really interested in women's football - and overall itwas a very nice climate to work in.

"In many ways I am giving up a lot, but you never regret things you do.

You regret things you didn't do. I see coming to Scotland as a great chance for my personal development as a human being and also as a football coach."

Signeul has only seen her new charges perform on video, but says:

"They were well organised and they play with their hearts. I like that."

A proposed friendly against Belgium has fallen through and Signeul, who almost had a career in professional tennis warns: "If we are going to have any chance in the World Cup qualification, we need to get going.

The players haven't seen each other for a while, but we've got two really good games coming up against England in April and Finland in May."

At least Signeul won't have to search for a goalscorer. Julie Fleeting, who in December notched two successive hat-tricks for Arsenal Ladies, has scored 78 goals in 73 games for Scotland.

Fleeting, like the rest of the Scottish players, will be relieved that the post of national coach has finally been filled following Pauw's departure.

Despite our poor opinion of ourselves, Signeul points out: "The knowledge of football is much higher here than in Sweden, even although at the moment we have better results. You have a great coaching culture and I'm looking forward to learning from it."