Scotland, the Netherlands, Italy and Ukraine begin a two-round contest for the eighth and final European slot at next summer's FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada when the play-offs start on Saturday.
• Play-off schedule
Semi-finals: 25 & 29/30 October
Scotland v Netherlands
Italy v Ukraine
Final: 22/23 & 26/27 November
Scotland/Netherlands v Italy/Ukraine
Finals draw: 6 December, Ottowa
Finals: 6 June–5 July, Canada
UEFA: England, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland*, 1 tbc
AFC (5): Australia, China, Japan (holders), South Korea, Thailand*
CAF (3): Cameroon*, Nigeria, Ivory Coast or South Africa
CONCACAF (4): Canada (hosts), Costa Rica*, United States, Mexico or Trinidad & Tobago
CONMEBOL (2): Brazil, Colombia
CONMBEOL-CONCACAF play-off (1): Ecuador v CONCACAF 4th place
OFC (1): 1 tbc
PLAY-OFFS IN DEPTH
Scotland v Netherlands
• First leg: 18.30CET, Saturday, Edinburgh
• Second leg: 19.00CET, Thursday, Rotterdam
• Scotland have never qualified for a major tournament, losing in the UEFA Women's EURO 2009 and 2013 play-offs.
• The Netherlands qualified for UEFA Women's EURO 2009 through the play-offs and also 2013 directly but have never got to a World Cup.
• Scotland beat the Netherlands 4-3 in the Cyprus Women's Cup in March.
• Scotland's Jane Ross and the Netherlands' Vivianne Miedima are joint top scorers in qualifying on 13 goals with England's Eniola Aluko and France's Gaëtane Thiney.
Anna Signeul, Scotland manager
We had a fantastic qualification campaign, though we wanted better results against Sweden. We did what we realistically should do – we had a convincing campaign and teams ranked much higher than us did not get to the play-offs.
Holland are a great team, we have huge respect for them, but the last two times at the Cyprus Cup we have beaten them. In March we won, not convincingly, but we were the better team.
Alex Salmond MSP, Scottish first minister
The team have performed magnificently well to get to this stage and The Netherlands will be difficult opponents, but I hope we can progress and move that one step closer to Canada. I encourage anyone who can attend Saturday's crucial match to get along to Tynecastle and roar the side on to victory. The level of the side’s play deserves a big turn-out and I'm confident a passionate crowd will push the team over that finishing line.
Loes Geurts, Netherlands goalkeeper to FIFA.com
We have never been this close before. We have never been so close so it is very exciting.
I want to play in a World Cup so, so bad. Everyone in the team is the same. It is really important. Not only for us because we want it, but for Dutch women's football. It would mean a lot if we could compete at a world level.
— Scottish FA (@ScottishFA) October 23, 2014
Italy v Ukraine
• First leg: 15.00CET, Saturday, Rieti
• Second leg: 17.00CET, Wednesday, Lviv
• Italy qualified for the World Cup in 1991 and 1999 as well as the last eight of every UEFA Women's EURO.
• For the 2011 World Cup, Italy overcame Ukraine 3-0 on aggregate on their way to the UEFA-CONCACAF play-off, which they lost to the United States.
• Ukraine defeated Slovenia to qualify for UEFA Women's EURO 2009; the nearest they came to the World Cup were the play-offs four years ago.
• Between them Italy and Ukraine scored 82 goals and conceded just 14 in their ten qualifying group games.
Roberta D'Adda, Italy defender
It's certainly not going to be an easy game. We've got to put everything we've got into it because we really want to go to the World Cup so we've got to give it 200% to be able to beat them. They are a side who are getting better and better because everybody is improving and any game you play at international level is always difficult. We're very disappointed that we didn't qualify automatically, but that's gone now and we've got to throw ourselves into this game to have the chance to play the next one.
Anatoliy Kutsev, Ukraine coach
Our philosophy is skilful and quick football but when there is need we are ready to turn ourselves into some kind of a fight club and produce character and an uncompromising attitude. These qualities will probably be decisive. The preparation for the play-offs against Italy kicked off on Monday.
All our players are bursting to get into action. It is great that we have our leaders Iryna Zvarich and Daryna Apanaschenko back in the squad after they missed the latest qualifiers against Turkey and Wales because of injuries.
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