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Arsenal’s Scots to follow England aces to Women’s World Cup

Finals joy for six Gunners internationals and a former head coach

06 September, 2018 — By Catherine Etoe

England celebrate during their win against Wales. PHOTO: THE FA/SILVERHUB

SIX Arsenal internationals and a former head coach danced with delight on pitches across Europe this week after first England, and then Scotland qualified for the Women’s World Cup.

It was a moment to cherish as the qualification campaigns of both countries went to the wire. It was a relief for England’s Lionesses, who needed to beat Wales on Friday to be sure of a spot in France next summer, and an historic moment for Scotland, who have never reached the World Cup finals before.

After seeing off Wales in front of a partisan crowd of just over 5,000 at Rodney Parade to clinch an automatic World Cup place, England and Arsenal’s 25-year-old midfield dynamo Jordan Nobbs vowed to work her socks off to be a part of head coach Phil Neville’s plans come June.

“I want to be on that plane to France now and I want to work hard to be in Phil’s team and be a great player for this country,” she told the New Journal. “So it’s great to know that we have qualified and now it’s the fight of getting on that plane.

“I will have to get my Arsenal head on [now] but in the back of my mind it just means I need to play well, keep playing well and make sure that I’m performing for next year.”

Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs. PHOTO: THE FA/SILVERHUB

Nobbs had played a major part in the qualification campaign but her clubmates Beth Mead and Leah Williamson did their chances of a World Cup appearance no harm after Neville blooded seven youngsters in England’s final qualification match against Kazakhstan on Tuesday. Both players stepped up for their first senior starts and Mead scored twice in a 6-0 hammering.

It was a neat ending to the campaign, but Neville knew that unbeaten Wales, managed by Arsenal’s 2007 quadruple-winning captain Jayne Ludlow, had given England and him an uncomfortable ride.

“Wales took us to a place where probably this England team has never been, right to the last game,” he said. “I think Jayne and their players deserve massive respect.”

Another Arsenal old girl, former manager Shelley Kerr, enjoyed more success this week. It had been a gruelling few days for Kerr’s Scotland, however, with their chances looking slim on Thursday after they beat favourites Switzerland in Paisley, but not by the two clear goals they needed to seal automatic qualification.

Scotland celebrate reaching the Women’s World Cup after beating Albania. PHOTO: SCOTTISH FA

They rose to the challenge in the final group game on Tuesday, though, beating Albania 2-1 – a result that saw them qualify for the World Cup once combined with a surprise goalless draw between Switzerland and Poland.

“It’s not often I’m lost for words but I’m really emotional,” said Kerr afterwards. “The whole week has been draining, for the players and the staff. We’ve done it the hard way during the campaign but we’ve shown great maturity and determination to succeed.”

Arsenal’s Scotland contingent certainly stepped up to the plate, with captain Kim Little scoring in both matches, ably backed by Lisa Evans and Emma Mitchell.

The Gunners Dutch players – Sari van Veenendaal, Danielle van de Donk, Vivianne Miedema and Dominique Bloodworth – face a play-off to secure their place in the World Cup finals, as does Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Lia Walti.

Meanwhile, England have announced friendlies against Brazil and Australia, and no doubt Scotland will also now line up some tasty World Cup warm-ups.

All of Arsenal’s internationals will now turn their attentions to their club form, though, with the Gunners focusing on the new-look all-professional FA Women’s Super League, which kicks off on Sunday when Liverpool visit Boreham Wood FC. The action starts at 12.30pm.

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