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‘Big Hampden boost’ as Scotland draw Austria and Republic of Ireland

The Scots must beat Euro 2022 quarter-finalists Austria at Hampden on 6 October if they are to then host the improving Irish five days later.

In Summary

• Scotland, currently 23rd in the world rankings, avoided 14th-best Iceland and 19th-placed Belgium and beat 20th-ranked Austria 3-1 the last time they met in the 2017 Cyprus Cup.

• Scotland could yet face another play-off test even if they win the two Hampden contests. 

England's Georgia Stanway in action with North Macedonia's Pavlinka Nikolovska in a past match
England's Georgia Stanway in action with North Macedonia's Pavlinka Nikolovska in a past match
Image: FILE

Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa says home advantage in the Women’s World Cup play-offs is “a big boost” after being drawn against Austria and the Republic of Ireland.

The Scots must beat Euro 2022 quarter-finalists Austria at Hampden on October 6 if they are to then host the improving Irish five days later.

Scotland were one of nine European group runners-up in Friday’s draw.

“We know that being at home is an advantage,” said Martinez Losa.

“And that’s what the players need - that extra boost the fans will give - and hopefully we can make qualification happen together.”

Scotland, currently 23rd in the world rankings, avoided 14th-best Iceland and 19th-placed Belgium and beat 20th-ranked Austria 3-1 the last time they met in the 2017 Cyprus Cup.

The Republic of Ireland have never beaten Scotland in five meetings, losing the latest four, but qualified directly for the second round of the playoffs as the third-best runners-up, three places above Martinez Losa’s side.

“I don’t think past matches will have any influence on this game,” the Spaniard added. “They are two strong opponents.”

Scotland could yet face another play-off test even if they win the two Hampden contests. Only the two best-ranked of the three final winners — based on performance in their qualifying groups and the play-off finals — head directly to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The third side goes into the inter-confederation play-off tournament, which takes place in February in New Zealand and where they could face Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Cameroon, Senegal, Haiti, Panama, Chile, Paraguay, or Papua New Guinea.

Currently, Wales and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who face one another in Cardiff for the right to visit Switzerland, and Portugal, who host Belgium as they vie to entertain Iceland, are below Scotland in the play-off ranking table.

Scotland have lost in two previous major tournament play-offs - beaten by Spain for a place at the 2013 European Championship and by the Netherlands in 2015 World Cup qualifying.

Who stands between the Scots and World Cup?

Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert and Caroline Weir challenge Republic of Ireland’s Karen Duggan Scotland beat the Republic of Ireland 1-0 in their last meeting in 2017

While Scotland qualified directly for their first World Cup finals in 2019, Austria and the Irish are looking to secure a place for the first time.

Austria

Former Austria midfielder Irene Fuhrmann had to be content with her side finishing second in their qualifying group behind European champions England and ahead of Northern Ireland.

They had also come second to England and ahead of Northern Ireland at the Euro finals this summer, where they lost to eventual runners-up Germany in the last eight.

Martinez Losa describes Austria as a team who have “shown experience and competitiveness tournament after tournament” with several of their squad playing at the top level in Germany.

Republic of Ireland

The Irish, managed by former Scotland head coach Vera Pauw, finished second in Group A behind Sweden and ahead of Euros participants Finland.

Their most notable results came in a 1-1 draw with Euros semi-finalists Sweden in Gothenburg having lost 1-0 at home to the side ranked third in the world.

Martinez Losa is relishing the possibility of a meeting full of “traditional rivalry” against a team Scotland last beat 1-0 in 2017 friendly but who “are progressing”.

World Cup play-off draw

Round 1 (6 October)

Scotland v Austria

Wales v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Portugal v Belgium

Round 2 (11 October)

Portugal or Belgium v Iceland

Scotland or Austria v Republic of Ireland

Switzerland v Wales or Bosnia-Herzegovina

 

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