Scotland women relish return to Fir Park

Scotland's Lisa Evans ahead of the qualifier against Belarus.  Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Scotland's Lisa Evans ahead of the qualifier against Belarus. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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Bayern Munich striker Lisa Evans hopes Scotland’s return to Fir Park will trigger a return to top form for her side against Belarus tonight.

The Scots switched to Tynecastle for last year’s World Cup play-off match against the Netherlands, while their two home friendlies in 2015 have been at Falkirk and Firhill.

“I’m really happy to be back at Fir Park and I think the rest of the team are as well,” Evans said. “The pitch is looking the best I’ve ever seen it.

“We’ve had good games here. I think the game against Bosnia was the best we’ve ever played.”

That game, a 7-0 rout which was sparked by Evans’ eighth minute goal and lightning running, was one of several in the World Cup qualifying campaign worthy of note. Worryingly, however, Evans’ side have not reached the same heights in the last 12 months – with the exception of a 3-1 Cyprus Cup win against an understrength Dutch side in March.

The performance in the Euro 2017 qualifying curtain-raiser in Slovenia last month was unconvincing, and it took the individual brilliance of Kim Little, who scored all the goals, to provide a 3-0 scoreline. That at least got the campaign off to the ideal start in that it temporarily put Scotland first in Group 1.

Top seeds Iceland won 4-0 in Macedonia yesterday to go top with six points after an opening 2-0 home defeat of Belarus. Tonight’s visitors at Fir Park also lost 3-0 in Slovenia on Monday.

The latter match, which took Belarus’s run of defeats to 11 (albeit that one was on penalties) was watched by Scotland women’s under-19 coach Gareth Evans and his scouting report will be invaluable to Anna Signeul.

The coach believes that Scotland qualifying for Euro 2017 will finally give Little a chance of making Fifa’s shortlist for women player of the year.

The Seattle Reign No 10 was again missing from this week’s 2015 list, and while Signeul accepts that was always likely in a World Cup year – all ten candidates are from competing nations – she was completely baffled about Little’s omission last year. The Scot was voted most valuable player in America’s National Women’s Soccer League, as well as being its leading goalscorer and providing the second most assists. “If we qualify in 2017, everybody on the Fifa jury will see how good Kim Little is,” Signeul said.