Scotland will be fearless in World Cup play-off

Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 6 October Kick-off: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC Alba & iPlayer, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app, highlights on BBC Scotland & iPlayer from 22:30

Pedro Martinez Losa has encouraged his team to be brave and fearless in their crucial Women’s World Cup play-off with Austria.

The Austrians come to Hampden with the winners then going on to face the Republic of Ireland next week.

And after making their World Cup bow in 2019, Martinez Losa says Scotland are ready to make the step again.

“We are stable, motivated, prepared and happy to be together,” he said.

“We have been trying to manage the emotional part of the preparation.

“It’s an opportunity for us to prove and to show [what we can do] but also an opportunity for the women’s game to continue growing, to give the next step.

“We can’t be scared of anything. Winning or losing is part of our job every day so we just consider winning and being prepared which we can control now.”

Martinez Losa admits he is not sure if his daughter will forgive him if they fail to beat Austria at Hampden on Thursday night.

The Spaniard, who took over from Shelley Kerr after Scotland failed to reach this year’s Euros, is aware of the importance of this match not just to the group of players, but to the country as a whole.

The women’s game in Scotland has grown in stature and popularity in recent years, and that would only continue if Martinez Losa’s team can book a place at the World Cup next year.

“There’s a human aspect,” he said. “Many years ago I didn’t have my little daughter. Now I have a four-year-old who is watching TV. So that increases the emotional part of responsibility also.

“I don’t know if she will forgive me if I come back home without winning.”

He added: “We have that opportunity independent of the result – which we want to win – but this is also an opportunity to influence people, to inspire people.

“Not only girls or women, but to achieve things, be brave and feel free and express themselves. This is what my players are going to do tomorrow.”

What the stats say

  • Scotland have gone three home games without a victory, while Austria have won four consecutive away games.
  • The sides have met three times previously, with Scotland winning all three – 2-1 away and 5-0 at home in their 2003 World Cup qualifying group, then 3-1 in the 2017 Cyprus Cup.
  • West Ham United winger Lisa Evans scored Scotland’s third goal in that last win over Austria and is in the current squad, but striker Jane Ross is injured and midfielder Leanne Ross now retired. Hoffenheim striker Nicole Billa scored Austria’s goal and is in their current squad.
  • Austria are looking to reach the World Cup finals for the first time despite reaching the last two Euro finals, while Scotland reached the finals for the first time in 2019.
  • Austria are currently 20th in the world rankings – three places above the Scots.
  • Irene Fuhrmann led Austria to the quarter-finals of this summer’s Euros, where they were beaten 2-0 by eventual runners-up Germany.
  • Austria finished behind England and above Northern Ireland in their groups at both this year’s Euro finals and in World Cup qualifying.
  • Scotland finished runners-up in their group behind a Spain side who ended their campaign with a 100% record.
  • Austria finished their qualifying group campaign with a 10-0 thrashing of North Macedonia, while Scotland eased aside Faroe Islands 6-0.

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