Fran Alonso determined to create history as Celtic aim for first Scottish Women's Cup triumph

·4-min read
Eileen Gleeson, Hayley Lauder, Jacynta Galabadaarachchi and Fran Alonso (Photo: Colin Mearns)
Eileen Gleeson, Hayley Lauder, Jacynta Galabadaarachchi and Fran Alonso (Photo: Colin Mearns)

FRAN ALONSO hopes that he can become the first Celtic manager in the club’s history to lift the Scottish Women’s Cup this Sunday with victory over Glasgow City – and the Spaniard is confident his team have what it takes to seal a domestic double.

Celtic and City met in the SWPL League Cup final back in December as Alonso’s charges eked out a 1-0 win and the coach hopes that history will repeat itself at Tynecastle this weekend.

Only Hibernian and Glasgow City have lifted the cup since 2002 when Kilmarnock finished victorious but having already written one chapter of history this season, Alonso is keen to add another.

“We won our first trophy in 11 years and we have the opportunity of winning our first ever Scottish Cup final,” he said. “That would mean in one season we could double the trophies that we have in our whole history. That speaks for itself.

“The girls know that they can put their names in the history books and we really want to do that – and please our fans, of course.

“I think [a different cup winner] is great for the league. I think that’s why the men’s English Premier League is so exciting, in the last 10 years there have been so many teams that have won it. I think that is positive for the competition and it’s the same for the Scottish Cup.

HeraldScotland:
HeraldScotland:

“It’s a shame – in the previous year we were in the quarter-finals but it was voided because of Covid. We have never lost a cup game in two-and-a-half years so that is good for us and hopefully we can be the first team after City and Hibs to win in a long time.”

As Alonso alludes to, his side have never been defeated on cup duty since he took the reins of the team in January 2020. It’s been a different matter in the league, where Celtic finished in third and 17 points behind eventual champions Rangers, but they have secured two wins over their long-standing rivals in the domestic cups this term.

Victories like that and performances like the one Alonso’s team showed in the Champions League qualifiers last August leave the manager with a steely resolution that they can take on anyone over the course of 90 minutes.

“This year I didn’t think we had the squad for a competition that rewards consistency,” he explained. “Footballing-wise, statistically we are the team that completes the most passes and has the most possession in the league but we also miss more chances although we create so many.

“There is a little bit of a lack of experience in some areas. But in the cup, it is one day and it is about our mental preparation for that day.

“We are unbeaten in the cups and we are the only team to have beaten the league champions. They only lost two games, both against us and both in the cups, so I know on our day we can beat any team.

“We proved it in the Champions League against Levante, a team that should be so much better than us and they were asking how much time was left [as Celtic pushed for an equaliser as they trailed 2-1].

“We are very good at preparing for one-off games. In terms of consistency, it’s about depth of squad and experience. This year we have fallen a little short but next year we will do much better because we have learned.”

That progression throughout the squad is perhaps best characterised by Jacynta Galabadaarachchi, the Australian midfielder who was a worthy winner of the club’s player of the year as well as the SWPL 1’s young player of the year.

HeraldScotland:
HeraldScotland:

For a player that struggled initially in Scotland, Jacynta’s development since has been remarkable. But as the 20-year-old explains, she was always confident that she would improve under Alonso’s guidance.

“When I came to the club, one of the main reasons was because of Fran,” she said. “The style of play that he implements in teams was one of the main reasons that I wanted to come and play for Celtic. I knew that he would nurture the way that I played and really help me grow as a player.

“I had a tough year when I first got here but I kept pushing and he told me I had to work harder. I changed a lot and how I’ve been playing recently shows the differences that I have made. I’m really proud of the girls and how far we have come this season.”

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