Lisa Evans is “buzzing” to be in the Scotland squad as they prepare for their first ever appearance at the Women’s World Cup this summer.
The Arsenal forward, who was named in Shelley Kerr’s 23-woman squad on Wednesday, hopes the tournament in France will be the start of something special for the women’s game in Scotland.
Speaking to Yahoo Sport UK at Scotland’s pre-World Cup training camp in southern Spain, Evans said: “We have qualified for our first World Cup and it’s absolutely massive for women’s football in Scotland.
“It’s our second major tournament, we had a snippet of being at Euro 2017 which we all loved as short as it was. I think we will really be looking at that and trying to improve on that. We are all really buzzing and we hope we can change the face of women’s football in Scotland.
“The women’s game in Britain has grown throughout, I think you can see the real development in England already but Scotland is a bit slower and a bit behind that development but it’s definitely picking up and there is definitely development in the grassroots. You can see way more girls participating in football so that is really good and it can only make the women’s game stronger.”
Scotland finished top of their qualifying group with only one defeat in their eight games, despite their underdog status. Evans couldn’t help but smile when explaining the feeling of securing qualification.
She added: “Qualifying against Albania was absolutely unbelievable. Probably one of the best days in my football career, if not the best. We did our job against Switzerland, which nobody really expected, and just being in that position, probably underdogs, you’re not really expected to qualify from that group.
“That feeling was absolutely unbelievable, the emotion was absolutely unreal. I can’t describe it.
“There had been a few bumps in the road,” she admitted. “I mean, the Poland away game where we were down 2-0, and we have managed to get a last minute winner in Poland, I think it was a bit shaky and we wasn’t sure if we were going to do it, but that turn-around was the turning point in our campaign that we could actually come from behind and really go for it. We’ve done that and it has paid off.”
Scotland’s only previous experience of a major tournament came in 2017 when the team were eliminated at the group stage of the 2017 European Championships. It is an experience that Evans thinks will stand them in good stead, but the former Bayern Munich player isn’t getting too carried away with expectations.
She explained: “We’ve not talked about how far we could go yet. I think that will come nearer the time depending on the squad and the individuals.
“As cliche as it sounds, I think it will be a case of taking each game as it comes and obviously the group we are in is a very tasty group. There are a lot of world class teams - England, Japan, Argentina.
“But we will just be looking forward to every game with a pure focus of that game and if we can get out of the group, that is our ambition.”
The 23 players to represent Scotland at the 2019 @FIFAWWC have been revealed, as @Kerr5Shelley names her #SWNT squad.
:arrow_right: Read more: https://t.co/wenMDRqLvB#OurGirlsOurGame pic.twitter.com/2xpk3Kd1OC
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 15, 2019
Evans won the Women’s Super League with Arsenal this season and the former Glasgow City striker believes improvements in domestic football have helped improved the quality in the Scotland squad.
She added: “The changes that have been made are remarkable and that started with former Scotland manager Anna Signeul making sure that the grassroots system is working better and more effectively. Even in terms of the domestic football in Scotland I think it has really improved.
“You can see Glasgow City year in, year out representing Scotland in the Women’s Champions League and even the girls we have playing abroad, whether it is in England, Sweden or America, I think that has really benefited the women’s national team and pushed us forward.”
Evans is aware that the World Cup will be an opportunity to increase the focus on women’s football and raise the profile of the team in the eyes of the Scottish public, something she is keen to make happen.
She said: “I think it could be a massive moment for women’s football after the World Cup depending on how well Scotland does but obviously we are in a position where we can be role models and it doesn’t come without success to be in the spotlight and I think it will obviously be hard because it is hard to change opinions in Scotland but obviously women’s football is picking up and we’ve seen that already with England reaping the rewards from the footballing world.”
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