Featured Image: YFS
With the Scotland Under-17s travelling to Serbia to take part in the Elite Round of Qualifying for the 2017 UEFA Women’s Under-17s Championships, Tartan Kicks caught up with their Head Coach Pauline Hammill.
These Teams We’ve Got Are Very Good
Scotland may be in a group without the big name countries such as France, Germany or Spain, however, it doesn’t mean that they are in for an easy ride. This was something that Hammill agreed with, saying that the absence of the top countries would have a “psychological effect for the players” which will prove positive. However, she added that her role as the coach is making sure the players knew that “these teams we’ve got are very good and here are the reasons why.”
Whilst the seedings for the Qualifying Round are done by each country’s coefficient ranking, based on their performances over the past three tournaments, the Elite Round is done upon their performance in the Qualifying Round.
Scotland vs Hungary – 13 March
Republic of Ireland vs Scotland – 15 March
Serbia v Scotland – 18 March
Scotland is the third seeds. The top seeds are the Republic of Ireland who won all three of their games, including beating a talented Iceland squad. Hamill points out that last year Iceland “beat us comfortably last year at 17s”; the second seeds Hungary finished joint top with Poland which she stated had beaten Scotland comfortably last year. And even Serbia, who were the second-worst ranked team, picked up four points – and the only game that they lost was a 1-0 defeat to Belgium.
However, despite this, Hammill felt that Scotland would go into the Elite Round in a confident mood.
“I think we’ve selected a lot of players that have played in the development tournament, we know it’s a young team we’ve got which means that a lot of them will get another year at this age group. But we go in with expectations because we want to set standards for ourselves and go out there and do our absolute best.”
She also added, “So I think we do as we always do, we go in to win every game and that’s what we’re going to try and do. We’re not going out there for any other reason but to try and do our best to put in our best performances in every game and try and win.”
The Development tournament that Hammill referred to was played at the Oriam in February 2017 and saw Scotland Under-16s take on Austria, Czech Republic and Iceland. They picked up two wins: beating the Czech Republic and Iceland but lost their opening fixture against Austria after going 1-0 up.
Scotland U16’s Development Tournament Results
Scotland 1-2 Austria
Scotland 3-0 Iceland
Scotland 2-0 Czech Republic
She felt it had gone “really well” and she talked about how she was “really pleased with how the girls performed.” Whilst she knew going into the tournament, it would be tough, it allowed her to see where the players were currently in their development, and made her realise that not only are they good players, but they are also progressing well.
“Overall, really pleased with the steps we’ve taken forward and given them the understanding of playing the level of matches like that is a really important thing too – that they know they can compete at that level, so I think the players gained a lot of confidence. So probably overall, it couldn’t have gone any better than we could have anticipated.”
Travelling To Serbia
The Elite Round sees Scotland make the long journey to Serbia, but Hammill felt the main difficulties would be the travelling to the country. The team will be staying at the National Performance Centre for Sport, and Hammill stated the feedback she had received from colleagues from the SFA who “have been there saying it’s great.”
“You have things on the one campus: you stay there, you train there, you eat there which cuts down on travelling to training and games which sometimes can be problematic, I think it’s just actually getting to Serbia and the travel around that is not good – and we would have liked to have been arriving a day earlier, but we have to be able to deal with anything that is thrown at us.”
Scotland’s Qualifying Round Results
Croatia 0-4 Scotland
Scotland 8-0 Kazakhstan
Scotland 0-4 France
To reach the Elite Round, Scotland finished runners-up in their Qualifying Group, beating Kazakhstan and Croatia – but lost their final game to France. Hammill praised her players for beating Kazakhstan and Croatia, saying that despite being expected to do so, they still needed to play well.
On the France defeat, she said: “that the only thing that disappointed us was conceding from two set plays and in the manner that we did – and they players weren’t happy about that either.”
Huge Progress Made
She also felt that her squad had taken a “huge step” and made huge progress since their Qualifying Round back in October. “For me that gives us more of an indication that going into this tournament that we’re a lot more prepared for the Elite Round than we were in October. I thought the Qualifying Round was good – but I can definitely see a difference in the players in how much better they have got in that short space of time which has only been five months.”
Finally, I asked Hammill on whether Scotland would benefit from an additional youth level, either U21s or U23s, and she responded positively but it came down to a budget issue.
“I think everyone clearly understands they could benefit from a 23s. We see now a lot of players coming out of the 19s don’t automatically make the step up to full international women’s team because it is a big step. You can see the level the women’s team is playing at the moment, you really need to be an exceptional youth player to go right into the women’s team. It’s at that age and stage when you would love for them to have something else for them to do because you want to help them progress to reach the women’s team level and they need further experiences. Everybody recognises it, but it’s purely a budget thing. Hopefully, in the future, we can have something – that would be ideal.”
Goalkeepers: Jade Baillie (Celtic), Kiera Gibson (Celtic)
Defenders: Georgia Adderley (Spartans), Nicole Cameron (Celtic), Jenna Clark (Rangers), Leah Eddie (Central Girls), Kirsten Laing (Hibernian Development), Jemma Marriott (Rangers), Sara McWhirter (Motherwell)
Midfielders: Michaela McAlonie (Hearts), Kalea McDonald-Nguah (Celtic), Kirstie McIntosh (Central Girls Academy), Amy Muir (Rangers), Jamie-Lee Napier (Celtic), Elena Santoyo-Brown (Boroughmuir Thistle)
Forwards: Morgan Cross (Central Girls), Lauren Davidson (Glasgow City), Naomi Welch (Central Girls)