SCOTLAND women will hope to rise above the doom and gloom surrounding the national side at the moment by creating history this week.
The Scots have the opportunity to make their first-ever appearance at the finals of a major tournament if they can overcome Spain in a two-legged play-off to reach UEFA Women’s Euro 2013.
The first leg takes place at Hampden Park on Saturday (kick-off 2pm) and Hibernian Ladies defender Frankie Brown admits qualification could have long-lasting benefits for the game in this country.
She said: “I’m excited and looking forward to the game because it is undoubtedly the biggest of my career. Reaching the finals next summer in Sweden would be massive for the girls and for the game in Scotland.
“We have been working towards reaching the finals for the last four years. Qualification and the resulting increase in media attention would hopefully raise the profile of our game.
“The participation in Scotland is incredible and the talent coming through is frightening, but what we need is more supporters coming along to the games, more media coverage and increased interest in general.”
Three years ago Scotland cruelly suffered play-off heartache at the same stage of the competition when they lost out to Russia on away goals.
For Brown, it was her first sample of travelling with the national side and she admits it left a long lasting, bitter taste in her mouth.
“The experience of that night in Russia will help because I know for sure none of the girls will ever want to feel like that again. Anna [Signeul, Scotland manager] challenged us to push ourselves, to not accept anything less than qualification this time. We not only have strength-in-depth within our squad right now, but also the belief in ourselves and in each other.”
Standing between Scotland and their dreams are a Spanish side that gave Germany a run for their money in Group 2 before eventually finishing runners-up. Ignacio Quereda’s side became the first team to take qualification points off the Germans – ranked second in the world – since 1999 and the Spaniards believe they belong amongst the elite of the game.
They reached the semi-finals of the 1997 European Championships; however, they haven’t qualified since and like Scotland lost out in the play-offs last time around.
Scotland haven’t faced Spain for 12 years in women’s football and Brown admits she knows little about her opponents.
She said: “I’ve never played against them, not even at youth level. I’ve watched a few clips to check out what clubs they’re with and I would expect them to produce a typically Spanish performance full of skill and impeccable technique.”
Scotland made Tynecastle Stadium their home for the qualifying campaign but with Hearts due to face Motherwell on Sunday before the live television cameras the SFA were forced to look elsewhere for a venue to host their illustrious match. Options were however limited due to a full card in the men’s game this weekend and the solution was to offer Hampden to the team.
The gesture was gratefully accepted by Signeul, pictured below, with Scotland Women poised to create history by playing their first-ever match at the National Stadium.
With free admission to the game on Saturday, the SFA is hoping to entice a large crowd into the stadium to cheer on what they hope will be a historic victory.
Brown commented: “Does it get any more special than representing Scotland at the national stadium? I don’t think it does. I believe we should be playing all our games at Hampden, after all, we are the national team and it’s the national stadium.
“I’m hopeful for a big crowd coming out to support us because they really could make the difference to our chances. “Regardless of how many supporters turn out, the Tartan Army will no doubt be very loud and I’m sure Hampden will feel full even if it isn’t.”