Womens Football Forum

Women's Football => Scotland Women's Football => Topic started by: David on January 17, 2007, 12:32:30 PM

Title: Swede dreams of Scottish success
Post by: David on January 17, 2007, 12:32:30 PM
Scotland were one of the trailblazing entrants in UEFA's first European women's tournament in 1984, but despite running England close in their two inaugural qualifying campaigns, they never made an impact and by 1999 were in the second tier of continental nations, struggling unsuccessfully for promotion. Less than a decade on, they have realistic hopes of qualifying for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™.

Play-off hope
Their rise dates back to the appointment of respected Dutch coach Vera Pauw to the helm in 2000. She steered the side to promotion, and on their return to the top level Scotland only missed a place in the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ play-offs by a point. Pauw then left, but at her recommendation the Scottish Football Association appointed Swedish youth coach Anna Signeul. Signuel steered the team to third place in a tough FIFA Women's World Cup pool including Germany and Russia, giving the team confidence for their attempts to secure a EURO play-off place from a group including Denmark, Ukraine, Portugal and Slovakia.

"I'm just so happy because we avoided Germany - we had them in the World Cup and in last EURO!" Signuel told uefa.com. "I am so looking forward to it and it is a great step forward that more teams feel they can compete. In the World Cup only the winners qualified, it was very difficult, now if you are a runner-up you have a chance. That makes the tournament so much more interesting. Ukraine are very good, Scotland actually played them and Portugal in a EURO 2005 qualifying group. Against Ukraine we won and lost, it was very even, but they have improved and are always difficult, especially away."

Club aim
Signuel is quick to credit Pauw for what she was left to build on, and is now keen to improve the club game which she identifies as the biggest difference compared to Scandinavia. "I've been there 18 months and when it comes to development and education it has been excellent," Signuel said. "It's been a good legacy that Vera gave for me to take over. Now we are looking more to the clubs, which takes a lot of time and is very hard sometimes. [Pauw] had a younger squad and she could work with them more, take them away, as not so many had jobs - it is a different situation for me. I don't have so many days with the players so that's why I need to focus on the clubs and develop the structure so they get better at coaching."

Hero Fleeting
She has also inherited another blessing - prolific Arsenal LFC striker Julie Fleeting, who has struck more than 90 international goals at a rate of more than one per game. Signuel said: "She would play in the starting XI in any country in the world and any team would build themselves around her. She is a role model. I have a very good U15 player [Jennifer Beattie], her father [John] was a rugby player and now a BBC radio journalist. He asked Julie Fleeting: 'How does it feel to be a pin-up? On my daughter's bedroom wall, there is a big poster of you!' So she is a hero for the young girls, and I think we need her."