Scotland may have qualified for Euro 2017 even before boarding the flight to Reykjavic for their final Group 1 game against Iceland on 20 September.
That was confirmed yesterday by coach Anna Signeul as she announced her squad for the match. There is a first call-up for 18-year-old Hibernian striker Abi Harrison, who scored a second-half hat-trick against Celtic on Sunday.
The Scots, who have never qualified for a Euro or World Cup, need one point in Iceland to be virtually guaranteed a place in the Netherlands. However, results in other groups next week could see them through before then.
The first such game is on 15 September when Belgium need to win or draw in Serbia ahead of their final group match against England. The next evening Finland, Russia and Italy all must win their games to have any chance of pipping Scotland as one of the best six group runners-up.
By far the most vulnerable are Russia, who despite home advantage are playing Olympic champions Germany. Against that, the Germans have already qualified and three of their best players, as well as legendary manager Silvia Neid, retired after last month’s triumph in Brazil.
“It will be the first game for the new German manager Steffi Jones, and it will be a new team, but I would expect that to be a motivation,” Signeul said. “Steffi is a great leader and she won’t want to lose her first game.”
Although the probability is that results elsewhere will spare Scotland yet another play-off, Signeul said her own motivation is to wipe out the memory of Iceland’s emphatic 4-0 win in the corresponding game at Falkirk Stadium in June.
“Of course it would be nice if we’ve already qualified when we go to Iceland, especially for me in the dugout,” she pointed out. “But we want to redeem ourselves after that dreadful loss in the home game.
“Everything went wrong that night – and it shouldn’t have because we looked so good in the build-up. Iceland just smacked us straight from the kick-off.
“I have brought Abi in because she was on fire against Celtic on Sunday. She has physicality, which is what we are missing a bit in the squad.
“She is very direct and she’s fearless. I felt when she played like that, even in a domestic game, why not give her the chance to come in.”
Glasgow City attacker Fiona Brown makes her first appearance in a squad since suffering her second ACL injury in a friendly against France 16 months ago. Not so fortunate is Seattle Reign’s Rachel Corsie, who is out, also with a knee problem.