SHELLEY KERR was quick to point out after Scotland’s European Championship qualifying defeat to Finland on Tuesday that it left her side in a similar position to 2019 World Cup qualifying. Then, as in Helsinki, Scotland lost 1-0 away to Switzerland but went on to win the group.

Although in that campaign the Swiss were the top seeds – Scotland hold that position now – there are indeed similarities. Scotland went on to win the home game 2-1 in Paisley, but it was the third-ranked nation, Poland, who made the difference.

Kerr’s players were, in some respects, fortunate to take six points from the Poles. They won the home game, but it took a penalty save, Paulina Dudek’s sending off and three very late goals to make it happen.

The away tie was even more fraught – Scotland recovering from two down in Kielce to again score three very late on.

This time the third seeds are Portugal, who Scotland have yet to play. And just as Poland did when they held Switzerland to a 0-0 draw on the final day of qualifying, the Portuguese have already done Scotland a favour.

Their 1-1 home draw against Finland, on what Anna Signeul described as a very poor pitch, may yet prove decisive. Assuming a straightforward win in Cyprus, if Scotland beat Finland at Easter Road on December 1, and also the
double header against Portugal, they will top the group and qualify for the finals in England.

Finland don’t look to be as good a side as Switzerland. Portugal are probably not as good as Poland. But failing to come away from Helsinki with at least a point, having dominated the first half and been the better side overall, has made Scotland’s task immeasurably more perilous.


ALTHOUGH Kerr and the national age group head coaches are all female, the situation at club level is very different. Of the 18 Scottish Building Society SWPL sides, only three have women at the helm.

This is a matter of concern for one of the trio, Aberdeen’s Emma Hunter. Her only female counterparts are the long-standing Debbi McCulloch at Spartans and Boroughmuir Thistle’s Suzy Shepherd.

“I’m a big driver of trying to get more and more female coaches,” Hunter said. “About 30 to 40 per cent of my players are now coaching in some capacity, so it may come eventually – but at the moment there is a bit of a transition with men’s professional players using women’s football as an option to start a career.

“That really worries me if I’m being honest because it might lead to even less women head coaches at SWPL clubs. I’m currently doing  my A Licence and I’m the only Scottish woman on the course.”

While Leanne Ross and Joelle Murray are among former or current Scotland players who may eventually move into senior coaching roles, Hunter said: “My only worry is that the national team players who are doing coaching badges may be enticed to go to England to work there.

“We need to really focus on the people who aren’t necessarily playing at the higher level and get them into coaching earlier.”

At Aberdeen Hunter was co-manager with Harley Hamdani until he emigrated to Australia and now has the same arrangement with Stuart Bathgate. She feels this structure brings best value to the team and she points out that Karen Hills and Juan Amoros are also co-managers at Tottenham.

Hunter’s side are top of SWPL2 on goal difference with their long-stated aim being to bounce straight back to the top flight following two successive relegations prior to Hunter’s appointment. Their two wins have come against Dundee United and Boroughmuir Thistle.

“It was a massive challenge last Sunday,” Hunter said of the trip to Edinburgh. “The bus has to be bigger to allow for social distancing, we obviously have to wear masks, and there’s no stopping allowed.

“You’re only allowed to arrive at the ground 45 minutes prior to kick-off. By the time you get off the bus and everyone has gone to the one available toilet that essentially gives you just 20 minutes to warm up after a long journey.”


GOOD luck to all the Scots involved in today’s FA Cup final between Everton and Manchester City at Wembley. It’s a huge shame the stadium won’t be packed with fans, but for the winners in particular it will be a day never to be forgotten.

Glasgow City, meanwhile, play their Champions League qualifier against Irish side Peamount United at Broadwood on Wednesday.