No team got closer to UEFA Women's EURO 2009 without qualifying than Scotland, pipped to a final tournament debut on away goals in their play-off with Russia.
They also missed out on the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup play-offs by a point after a tense 0-0 draw in Denmark, confirming their improvement. On 12 October they kick off their 2013 EURO bid in Israel, the longest trip in a tough Group 4 that contains FIFA Women's World Cup semi-finalists France, the Republic of Ireland and Wales. Swedish coach Anna Signeul has been in charge since 2005 and speaks to UEFA.com about their qualifying campaign and her work developing women's football in Scotland, not least with the recently-introduced summer league.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your group?
Anna Signeul: It is a very challenging draw. I think France are better than they have ever been, a very good team. We played in Cyprus [in March] and lost 3-0. Some very very experienced players combined with some new, fantastic players. It is a really tough group. And having Wales and the Republic of Ireland, we have played them in friendlies and played Ireland in qualifiers a couple of years ago, they are two very good teams who are developing very well and have players playing in the Women's Super League in England. I have huge respect for both teams. [Israel] have technical players, and all the teams are developing. All the countries are putting more and more resources into developing women's football – that's how it should be.
UEFA.com: Does getting so close to the World Cup play-offs and EURO 2009 finals make you even more determined?
Signeul: It was just one goal and the previous campaign was just an away goal. We're very close to being up there among the best teams, that's what we are aiming for and we are absolutely determined to get to the next level.
UEFA.com: A lot of young players are now coming through...
Signeul: We develop all the time and pick up players all the time from the youth teams. What is go encouraging is the progress our U17 and U19 teams make and the players we see coming through, we bring them up to the A squad. We continuously have good players coming into the squad and we have a good mix in the team of older and younger players. We don't have depth to the squad; that's what we are missing. We are depending on our best players being fit on the day, but we have some fantastically talented players in Scotland.
UEFA.com: How has the switch to a summer league gone?
Signeul: It is very good, if you had seen the weather in Scotland last winter in the men's league, they had cancelled games ... It has been a success. I think mostly because you want to play football when it is good weather. I wouldn't mind if men's football moved to spring to autumn. We didn't change to get more media coverage; we want the youth teams and juniors and amateurs to change too. But it is a great move, we get a much better season for the players. We finish in November, they can rest and work really hard and have a good season without cancelled games.
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