The main story in 2017 will undoubtedly be Scotland at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands where they will play England, Spain and Portugal in the group stage.
Scotland’s preparations began with two friendlies against Denmark in Cyprus last month, and they picked up two impressive draws with their second half performances. Ex-Glasgow City attacker Erin Cuthbert marked the occasion with her first goal for Scotland.
At the end of the month, Scotland prepares to travel to Cyprus once again – this time to play in the Cyprus Cup. The structure guarantees Scotland will play four matches – giving Anna Signeul plenty of game time to give “fringe-players” an opportunity to shine.
Over the years, Scotland has participated in the competition many times, and have picked up some impressive results – including a win against England that ended a long wait for a win against the Auld Enemy, the first since 1977. Scotland’s best finish at the Cyprus Cup has come in 2011 and 2014, with both times, they finished fourth.
This season, the highest ranked side in the whole competition is North Korea who is ranked 10th
In Scotland’s group is Austria, South Korea and New Zealand – providing them with a wide variety of opposition.
Austria – World Ranking: 24
Austria is the only team in Scotland’s group that are ranked lower than them – but like Scotland, they are preparing to make their debut at a major international tournament.
They finished up as runners-up in their qualification group, finishing runners-up to Norway. They lost just one game (to the Norwegians) and picked up five wins and two draws to finish six points ahead of Wales. Their top scorer in the group was SC Sand forward Nina Burger. It means that they finished as the fifth-ranked best-placed team, enough to reach the Euros without a play-off.
At the Euros, they face France, Iceland and Switzerland – facing three dangerous sides who have all qualified for previous major tournaments.
Austria is the defending champions, winning the 2016 Cyprus Cup, beating Poland in the Final.
South Korea – World Ranking: 18
South Korea reached the Last 16 of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and possess some world-class players in their squad, including Chelsea’s Ji So-Yun. They will also see the Cyprus Cup as preparation for two major tournaments this year: the qualification for the 2018 AFC Asian Cup which is used as the 2019 World Cup Qualification. These games are played in April, and they will face Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, India and North Korea – with the games being held in Pyongyang, North Korea.
In December 2017, they will take part in the final stage of 2017 East Asian Championship where they will play North Korea, China and the hosts Japan.
They’ve yet to win the Asian Cup – with their best finish coming in 2003 when the ended up third. South Korea’s best position in the Asian Games is also Third Place which they’ve achieved over the past two tournaments in 2010 and 2014.
South Korea have lifted silverware in the past, winning the inaugural edition of the East Asian Championship, back in 2003.
Their best finish at they Cyprus Cup came in 2014 when they finished third after beating Scotland on penalties in the ‘Third-Place Match’.
New Zealand – World Ranking: 19
New Zealand, managed by English coach Tony Readings, have a strong experience of major international tournaments. They’ve qualified for four World Cups – although, they are still looking for their first win. Their best showing at a World Cup came in Canada where they were unlucky not to reach the knockout stages as they drew twice with Amber Hearn missing a penalty in a goalless draw against Canada.
New Zealand has also played in the past three Olympics – reaching their Quarter-Finals in London. They played Great Britain in the opening match of 2012, with Scots’ Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke starring in a 1-0 win for GB. The Ferns’ win over Cameroon was enough for them to reach the Quarter-Finals where they were knocked out by eventual winners the USA.
New Zealand has dominated the OFC Championship over the past years, winning the past three tournaments without losing a single game and conceding just once. Over 2010 and 2014, they’ve averaged 10 goals per game.
Their best finish in the Cyprus Cup was in 2010 where they finished as runners-up, including beating Scotland in the group stage.