Glasgow City bid to overturn 3-0 Champions League deficit
The 22-year-old Irish attacker was with Arsenal until the first week of August brought her north for more playing opportunities. Days later Republic of Ireland coach Colin Bell installed her as captain to replace the retired Emma Byrne for the World Cup qualifying campaign.
“It was a massive shock,” McCabe said. “It’s obviously something you don’t expect to happen when you’ve only been in the team two years and are 21. I never thought I would be next in line but Colin showed great trust in me in thinking I can lead the team – and I led them to their first three points of the qualifying campaign against Northern Ireland and hope I can get another three points against Slovakia in two weeks’ time.”
The seismic nature of the shock in being awarded the captaincy can be explained in the reaction of her oldest friends. “I’ve never captained a side before,” added McCabe.
“My mates gave me a bit of stick because I was never even allowed to be captain in the school’s team. The girls have been great in the Ireland camp, I’ve had a lot of support from the team, and that’s all you want. To have a manager like Colin, with what he has seen and experienced in Europe in being a Champions League winner [with German side Frauen DFB Pokal in 2014], show that trust and belief in me is so good.”
McCabe’s drive and assurance impressed Bell. These facets are to the fore in her ebullience about Glasgow staging an almighty comeback at Petershill Park tonight against the Kazakhstanis.
“I just think there is a buzz around the team,” she said. “With 3-0 you tend to automatically think it’s over but it’s just different this time. Our win on Sunday [a 5-0 Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Forfar Farmington] helped us gain confidence and got us scoring goals, and we hope to do the business.”
McCabe almost put Glasgow ahead in the third minute at the Namyz Stadium in Shymkent only for her to lose possession in the lead-up to the home side’s third goal an hour later – which followed a goalless first half. “The third goal killed me,” she said.
“Just kind of summed us up in that 13-minute spell. It was frustrating. We were confident going in at half-time. We only had 45 minutes to go to get the nil-nil, but the third goal summed up that 15-minute spell. But we had a lot of chances and created a lot of problems for them.
“Conditions weren’t in our favour. We aren’t used to playing on grass week-in, week-out, and the pitch was flooded, but we’ll take them on our home [astro] turf and hope to do the business.”
Glasgow, managed by Scott Booth, pictured, were seeded to progress beyond the last 32 of the competition for the first time in three years but McCabe dismisses any suggestion that the threat of Kazygurt wasn’t fully recognised.
“I’ve never heard of them before, but I now know they were drawn against Arsenal once,” she said.
“They are in the last 32 and had a difficult group stage so we never under-estimated them at any time.
“We held them out for 45 minutes and it was just that 15 minutes of madness that didn’t go our way. But we know what they are capable of, we analysed the game.
“We know what we’ve done wrong, and what we can do better, and what we have done better and look to do better to get the goals.”