It was a very odd scenario for this women’s soccer international from the outset. A match between Scotland and England is always going to get nationalistic pride surging. At whatever level the match is played that’s going to be the case, the rivalry between the two nations is immense.
It was the final UEFA Group A Nations League fixture this week as Scotland National Women’s Team faced England. Scotland were already bottom in the group by a long way, but England could top the table if a few conditions could be met.
Scotland could stop their rivals England topping the table by getting a draw or a win. England not only had to win the match but had to do so handsomely with a substantial boost to their goal difference over The Netherlands. There was though a shared prize and reward on the table for both Scotland and England.
If England topped the table it would mean that a combined Great Britain (GB) women’s soccer squad would qualify to enter next year’s Olympics. That squad would include some of Scotland’s better players, alongside England, Wales and Northern Ireland women. A high-scoring England win would have suited those Scottish players if the matter of national pride and rivalry was put to one side. Stories circled before the game suggesting that Scotland might lie down, drop important players and make the match easier beforehand. Outrageous yelled Scotland, players and fans as a whole, at such a slur.
Embarrassingly for Scotland, the end result of the match was a huge 6-0 win for the English visitors after a woeful and lackluster Scotland performance. There’s no suggestion afterward of them having given the game away after all, just of not performing anywhere near the level required. So there should have been some consolation for the beaten Scots players with a few places in the Team GB Olympics soccer squad. And the English lionesses should be delighted as table toppers and taking many of those Olympic squad places up.
But sensationally that’s not how it worked out in the end. The Netherlands were playing Belgium at the same time and determined to stop England from clawing back the goal difference between the two sides. The Dutch women could also take top place and prevent England by scoring a few goals too.
As England scored a late sixth goal at Hampden for their amazing win that goal was enough to take them to top place ahead of The Netherlands. That is until in the dying seconds of their own match the Dutch side hit an even later fourth goal. It meant they stretched in front with that all-important goal difference.
Back on the post-match pitch at Hampden, the embarrassed and despairing Scot’s players having been heavily defeated were now alongside their devastated England opponents, for whom the six-goal win had proved insufficient. The Netherlands were top, England second and there was to be no Team GB at the Olympics next year.
As fans and players try to grasp what has happened the focus for the Scots will surely turn to their management and players. Neither proved good enough on the night and on reflection with just two points in the whole Nations League campaign, neither has done enough overall. It’s definitely not a happy time in the SNWT camp.