Scotland defender Frankie Brown has set her sights on qualification for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada as Anna Signeul’s side continue to break new ground.
In the latest edition of the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, Scotland moved up one place to 19th and remain the 11th-ranked team in Europe.
The progress made under Signeul has been remarkable and, as Brown has seen for herself, the women’s game has come a long way in a short space of time.
The 26-year-old, right, recently made the decision to leave Hibs Ladies following eight years with the club after taking up a research position at Bath University.
The defender won every domestic honour with the Hibees and played in the Champions League with the club. However, much of that was achieved in spite of playing on public parks and without the facilities the Hibs girls now enjoy.
Brown, who was staying tight-lipped on a reported deal with FA Women’s Super League outfit Bristol Academy, recalled: “The send-off the girls gave me was lovely and it has been emotional to leave the club after eight years, but it’s the right time to move on as I’ve just finished my PhD and I need to venture out into the big bad world at some point.
“So much has happened during my time with Hibs and it was fantastic to be surrounded by such a supportive family atmosphere during both the good times and the bad.
“To be part of the growth of the club has been special; we have come a long way since the Sunday we had to use flour to mark the lines on the pitch.
“My last game was meant to be against Inverness City and I was given the honour of captaining the side that day. However, my circumstances changed and it was great to get one more run out last weekend at Aberdeen.”
Scotland currently top their World Cup qualifying group after four wins from four games and tomorrow they face Poland at Fir Park, Motherwell (kick-off 5.30pm).
Having taken maximum points so far, and on the back of a successful Cyprus Women’s Cup campaign last month, the confidence is high that they can remain unbeaten and set up a winner-takes-all double header with Sweden later in the year.
Full-back Brown, capped 56 times for her country, made her first start as Scotland suffered UEFA Women’s Euro 2009 play-off heartache against Russia and was involved in last year’s agonising and dramatic loss against Spain at the same stage of the competition when a last-gasp goal sent the Scots tumbling out. Despite the pain of going so close to realising their ambitions, only to have them dramatically snatched away in the most gut-wrenching of circumstances, Brown revealed the experiences endured by the Scottish players are not what drives them on to achieve their dreams.
She said: “They were devastating at the time but they are in the past. It’s our hard work and desire to achieve and be the best that we can be that drives the team on.
“We are all pleased with the progress we have made over the last few years together, but we are not finished just yet. We know that we can match the very best and the recent good results [in the Cyprus Women’s Cup] have given us a bit of good publicity which we need more of.
“I have no doubt we can qualify from this group because collectively our only ambition is to play at a major finals and the impact of qualification would be massive for our game.
“The matches against Sweden will go a long way to deciding our fate, but every game is just as important. We need to focus on only the next opponent and right now we are concentrating on Poland.
“They are a good side; we know this having already played them during this campaign.
“It will be another tough contest but there is no reason why we cannot keep our good run going and get the win we desire.”