Ever-smiling but always thinking, Scotland Head Coach Shelley Kerr spoke to us after her side were paired with England, Japan and Argentina in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
On her initial reaction when the draw was made:
My initial reaction was that ‘yeah, it’s a tough draw!’ [chuckles]
There’s no doubt that everyone’s talking about the rivalry already but what we can’t afford to do, and I’m sure it’ll be the same for England, is get distracted on one game because Japan’s in there, runners-up from 2015, serial winners and we’ve got Argentina who have obviously been at a World Cup Final before too.
When you get to a World Cup finals it’s always going to be tough. I wanted to avoid USA, we did that but we’ve got one extremely tough group. Not just one in terms of opponents but in terms of logistics and different locations. So the key now is the preparation. There’s no doubt that obviously the first game is going to be tasty for everyone but it’s about making sure you don’t get caught up on just one game.
On whether she had a hunch this might happen:
I came into the draw really relaxed because you can’t control it, so there’s no point getting upset or worrying or stressing about a draw, you deal with the draw when it gets made. As a manager, a coach and a player, if you want to perform on the world stage you know you’re going to play against the best players and the best teams and the best coaches. You’ve just got to embrace it.
On the glitzy ‘show’:
Yeah it’s glitzy but I think all of the coaches would say the same thing, that they just want the draw made to know who you’re going to get and then you can start in your head, planning and preparing.
On this now potentially being a regular thing for Scotland to appear at major finals:
Well we certainly hope so. It’s consecutive finals now and obviously England are hosting 2021. There are great things happening for girls’ and women’s football in the UK. We had a record crowd for our game against Switzerland. We set out a year and a half ago to captivate our nation by playing in a certain manner and I think we have done that. We are here on merit. We don’t just want to be here though, we want to compete and we want to do well.
On whether she needs to place her players in bubble wrap from now on in:
No. It’s funny because everyone talks about players getting injured but that’s part of sport isn’t it? Players can get injured at any time and we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the best squad available. Every finals tournament everyone wants the best players in the world to be performing and so we want our best players available too.