Scotland must be 'ready to battle' for Euros dream after drab Serbia draw ramps up pressure on head coach

Scotland defender Sophie Howard has called on the squad to be ‘ready to battle’ for their Euro 2025 dream after a drab 0-0 draw in Serbia.

Scotland defender Sophie Howard urged her side to be “ready to battle” in order to achieve their Euro 2025 dream after their qualifying campaign began with an uninspiring 0-0 draw in Serbia.

Pedro Martinez Losa’s side were looking to end their 16-month wait for a competitive victory and while they entered the game in Leskovac as narrow favourites, they rarely tested their hosts during a frustrating encounter.

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"I think they are a very difficult team to play because they are so physical. We got the point, we move on do our analysis and go again on Tuesday,” Howard told BBC Scotland. "I think we could have given the game away at the end but we showed great character to hold on, put bodies on the line and just disappointed not to get more. I think the majority of the game we had a lot of time on the ball but when they were countering it was very busy.”

Outside of a speculative effort from half-time substitute Jane Ross, the away side struggled to impose themselves on the game and could have quite easily fallen behind but for a poor finish from Serbia’s Jovana Damnjanović early in the second period. Already missing Caroline Weir, Martha Thomas and Kirsty Hanson, Scotland were also dealt another injury blow when goalkeeper Sandy MacIver was forced off after landing awkwardly when catching a high ball.

"I think the majority of the game we had a lot of time on the ball but when they were countering it was very busy,” noted Howard. “Towards the end especially we had to defend the box often, I think we did that really well but it was a challenging part of the game. You get the chance to go again in a couple of days. It is important now that we recover but we are ready to battle again.”

Spanish head coach Martinez Losa has come under increasing pressure after failing to quality for the last two major tournaments and the goalless draw in Serbia will do little to appease fans who have called for change. However, the Spaniard brushed off concerns about his job and insists his focus is solely on getting his side to the Euros in Switzerland next summer.

“It is about qualifying for the Euros,” said Martinez Losa. “That was what this campaign is about. Every game is pressure. I am used to it. I have been working like this since I was 18-years-old. It is about winning and the next challenge for us to beat Slovakia (on Tuesday). We know that if we finish first, second or third in the group then we can qualify for the play-offs and, ultimately, make it to the European Championships. Since the draw was made our ambition is to finish first in this group and that has not changed.

“We have seven players who would be in the squad who are not at this camp,” proclaimed the Spanish boss. “We are conscious of the standards and we bring in players to bring energy and passion and try to do their best. I don’t know that any team missing seven players would not miss them.”



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