THERE was a first chance to meet Pedro Martinez Losa at Hampden on Thursday when the new Scotland head coach was introduced to the media. His first tests will come next month with the opening World Cup qualifier in Budapest, followed by a home game against the Faroe Islands at the national stadium.

Rachel Corsie, whose first match as permanent captain in 2017 was coincidentally also in Hungary, will continue to wear the armband. Martinez Losa is finalising his backroom staff and has identified his No 2. It will be a woman – but not, he says, Tanya Oxtoby, who assisted Stuart McLaren in June and stood down as Bristol City head coach during the week.

Although Ukraine can't be entirely dismissed, Group B should be a straight contest between Martinez Losa's home nation and his adopted one. When he was appointed to the Scotland post last month he received a congratulatory message from his Spanish counterpart Jorge Vilda, who is a friend as well as coaching colleague.

One player Martinez Losa knows particularly well is Jenni Hermoso. The 31-year-old, who is the all-time top scorer for both Barcelona and Spain, is one of three players short-listed for the Uefa women's player-of-the year award (the other two, Lieke Martens and Alexia Putellas, also play for the Champions League holders).

Martinez Losa signed the player in 2010, when he was midway through his four years as the successful head coach of Rayo Vallecano. “She was the diamond of Atletico Madrid, but for some reason she was not happy,” he said just an hour before her Uefa nomination.

“I got a call and she told me she was leaving – and asked if I wanted to sign her. We did it the following day. After a few seasons she went to Barcelona and the rest is history.”

The 45-year-old says it is not his place to explain why top seeded Scotland lost all four games against Finland and Portugal in recent Euro qualifying. He points out he wasn't privy to the tactical discussions, but, having analysed the games, he said: “I see a team which needs to improve in defensive principles, that needs to have a spirit to win.

“They were also unlucky in terms of the number of chances they created, so that's something we will work on. It's a new start and I'm sure the players will be ready to put all their efforts in to improve and give their best.

“Our objective short term is to be in a position to win every match – and I'm aware of the strength of Spain.”


THE League Management Committee made the correct decision in midweek when proposing a solution to the blatantly unfair 2021-22 SWPL 1 fixture schedule. Provided none of the impacted clubs lodges an appeal by Wednesday, the 27-game season which gets underway on September 5 will be more equitable.

Originally Aberdeen were scheduled to play 15 away games, while hosting only twelve. Conversely, Spartans and Forfar Farmington would have had 15 at home and twelve away.

Forfar's subsequent withdrawal from all SWPL competitions made the situation even more ridiculous. Partick Thistle, who were promoted to take their place (leaving SWPL 2 with only seven clubs) inherited their fixtures also.

That would have meant all of Aberdeen's 15 away games being in the central belt, whereas at the outset two of them were at much nearer Forfar. It would have been an onerous travelling schedule for a professional team, never mind an amateur one with work and education commitments the next day.

Adding to the injustice, Aberdeen, who won the SWPL 2 title to earn their place in the top flight, would have had only twelve home games while Thistle, who got in by default, were scheduled to have 15.

When the new fixtures are released some clubs will still be at a disadvantage – but with every team having either 14 at home and 13 away, or vice versa, it will be as fair as it can be in the circumstances.


GLASGOW City will be in today's Champions League second round draw following their 1-0 win over BIIK Shymkent at Broadwood last night. Priscilla Chinchilla's goal just after the hour decided a closely fought game and could prove very lucrative as it takes the Scottish champions closer to a place in the new 16 team group stage.

It was two defeats from two for Celtic when they lost 3-2 to Minsk after extra time in Trondheim, but the Norwegian experience will stand the squad in good stead.