Scotland lock Emma Wassell admits that tonight’s Women’s World Cup qualifying play-off first leg against Spain is something that has been in her thoughts for three years.
The Scots are desperate to make a strong start to the two-leg tie, with the return in Madrid next Saturday, and get back on the World Cup stage in Ireland next year.
“I joined the squad just after the qualifiers three years ago so since then I have known this is coming up and now it is within reach,” said the 22-year-old Murrayfield Wanderers player.
Scotland have not won a competitive game for six years. Then the Scots beat Sweden (the last time they qualified for a World Cup) and France in the Six Nations.
Under coach Shade Munro visible progress has been made this year with far more combative displays and Wassell is relishing tonight’s game, which will be live on BBC Alba.
“There is a different feel around it,” she said. “This is a massive opportunity for us as a squad. We’ve really been building towards this – to qualify for the World Cup really means a lot to every single one of us.
“ Each game we play against all nations – England, France and so on – we take them all equally seriously, but to qualify for the World Cup, that has been a significant aim for us.
“We all believe we can win, and we can win – we’ve got really talented players – and sometimes we just maybe can’t do the last 30 minutes to the same level. It’s those little things. But we don’t go out there thinking we are going to lose, we believe we are going to win the [same] way we believe we are going to win at club [level] – the results will come.”
Munro said: “Given that the national team have not won a competitive game for a while it is really important that we perform to our ability. We have certainly put a lot of focus into this World Cup qualifier. The preparation building up to this has included extra camps, competitive fixtures against teams and we are much more prepared than we have been in the past.
“We beat Spain a year ago in a friendly but that team did not really resemble the one we are going to be playing. There are players who have come into the Spanish outfit who were involved in their Olympic preparation for qualification so they are a much better side than the one we faced a year ago. I would say that we are also a much better side than we were a year ago, we are much better prepared.”
The match represents a great opportunity to promote the women’s game in Scotland and Munro added: “It is important for the growth of the women’s game. We can see that the game is on the TV as well and it is important that we showcase the women’s game.”