Here’s the thoughtful and relatively relaxed response from Scotland coach Anna Signeul to a game that severely tested her young side…and a look ahead to today’s play-off draw.
Scotland were dealt a pretty comprehensive footballing lesson by a free-flowing French team on Wednesday evening, in a 5-0 defeat. Despite missing some of their regular starters like Sonia Bompastor and Laura Georges, France were as fluent as you can expect when they are on top of their game.
To their credit, Scotland did not stop and were certainly in the game in the first half, they also had chances to score throughout the match, but were penned back and under pressure for increasing spells towards the end of the 90 minutes.
After the game Scotland coach Anna Signeul was disappointed but pragmatic, fully appreciative of the talents of France, still able to raise a smile and most importantly, as excited as ever about the prospects for her young and developing squad:
Reactions to the game:
We just played the best team in Europe, at the moment and France showed that tonight. They leave some players out, like Bompastor and have some young players that they put in and who are absolutely fantastic. Taking out [Camille] Abily at the end and putting on a player like Catala, the no. 13? I think French football is just brilliant.
I must say that in the first half, I thought the goals that we conceded were quite cheap. It was a cheap goal on the corner and the first goal was unnecessary as we tried to play too short.
We knew that we would have to defend a lot but I do also think that we actually created more chances in this game than we did when we lost 2-0. And I say give us half a year more with this squad and we can actually start to compete with the best players. But it felt a little bit like when we played against Sweden [in a friendly]. We lost 4-0. They are a side too big for us, still.
But I take so many positive things from this game and to see Lisa [Evans] tonight, I think we see that we have a great future forward. We played with Emma [Mitchell] today, from the start (it was her birthday today!) and I think she will be a great player for us in the future. Great left foot, she showed against Iceland and Norway that she can score goals as well. We also put on Jennifer Beattie at centre back and she did well back there. I think we have a great squad that we can develop even more. The potential is huge in this squad. So that feels really good.
On the basic differences between the two sides:
I think technically, we gave away too many passes because we were under pressure so much but I think technically we showed that we are getting better. Physically, we can’t really compete but I think with speed, we’re quite ok. It’s just when they come with so much pressure, so many runs into the box, we just fall deeper and deeper.
But I think that we are progressing all the time.
On the heavy scoreline, was she worried the scoreline would get out of hand?:
I think 5-0 is out of hand! [Mock anger/laughing] But it’s good to play these teams. We’re not pleased with the second half but we’re absolutely ok with the first half. We’re learning all the time, it’s what we do. It’s good after having success to be grounded again. It’s good for the players too. They know that they won’t get anything for free. You need to work hard all the time for everything.
France’s Le Sommer heads towards goal, Gemma Fay is poised to save. (LORRAINE HILL)
On closing the gap with teams like France and Sweden:
In terms of France, I think there are other countries, even like Sweden, that need to think about how they can close the gap. With France, with this quality, it’s fantastic to see them. Unfortunately, maybe we will see more of our players disappearing out of the country (like Lisa Evans heading to Potsdam) and that would of course benefit the squad but it doesn’t benefit the development of the game in Scotland because you want to develop the league.
On the relative ‘unimportance’ of the game:
We were not here to compete. I thought it was a shame that we have the game live on BBC ALBA, we could have maybe scored a goal and only conceded one in the second half but…It was a strange feeling before this game because it was the first time that we play a game, where you felt that it was just a bonus game. You didn’t have to win, you didn’t have to perform and when you play friendlies, you plan them in because you have a purpose and you want to achieve something and here we had a game that we didn’t need to win.
Looking ahead to the play-offs and potential play-off opponents:
I think when it comes down to the wire, as it is in these play-offs, I think we can beat all teams that we might play.
Spain is maybe the country that we don’t know so much about. I think we could take Russia. We have a better squad now. We played Russia in the Cyprus Cup in 2010 and beat them, so I think we are competent and we showed that in games that we can beat any of these squads, though to beat the best like France that’s too big a game for us. I don’t think it’s right that it doesn’t matter how well you have done in the group games, it doesn’t matter whether you are the best runner up or you are the 7th [as to who you play in the play-offs]. The coefficients/rankings from before qualifying started are used to seed teams. So, the result didn’t matter today other than if we had won 4-0. The last time I didn’t think about it because we weren’t one of the best runners up but this time we are.
On who she would want to avoid in the play-offs:
France! [More laughter] But we can’t get them, so that’s ok. There’s such a big gap between the top eight in Europe and the rest, other than Holland, who can compete with Sweden but lost just 2-1. It’s years of experience, it takes time. That’s why it’s so important that we get to the Euros so that we can start to get the experience. So, we can start to play these important games.
THE DRAW FOR THE UEFA 2013 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS WILL TAKE PLACE AT 11.45 (UK TIME) TODAY…
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