Scotland's Ifeoma Dieke and Jo Love honoured by milestone caps

By John BarnesBBC Scotland
Ifeoma Dieke and Jo Love
Scotland's Ifeoma Dieke has won 107 caps while Jo Love has amassed 162
Scotland women v Belarus women
Date: Friday, 23 October Venue: Fir Park, Motherwell Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC Alba; listen on BBC Radio Scotland

Jo Love and Ifeoma Dieke will receive special caps before the Euro 2017 qualifier against Belarus on Friday for playing more than 100 Scotland games.

The awards are part of a Uefa programme to recognise women who have reached the international milestone.

Love, 29, who has 162 caps, said: "To get the award and to be recognised by the SFA, never mind Uefa, is a great privilege for me. It's very touching."

And 107-times capped Dieke, 34, added: "I'm absolutely delighted."

Only Kenny Dalglish, with 102 caps, has reached the century mark in the men's game for Scotland, while Love and Dieke join eight other women to have achieved that.

Others in the squad with 100 caps to their credit are Gemma Fay, Kim Little and Leanne Ross. Former internationals Julie Fleeting, Pauline Hamill, Suzanne Grant, Rhonda Jones and Megan Sneddon have also also reached that milestone.

While Love and Dieke will be presented with their mementoes at Fir Park, the others will receive their awards before future Euro qualifiers.

Ifeoma Dieke
Ifeoma Dieke is one of 10 women to have played 100 times or more for Scotland

Vittsjo GIK defender Dieke, who has played club football in the United States, Sweden and Cyprus, began her international career in 2004 and also played for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.

"When I started playing for Scotland I didn't think about how many caps I'd receive, but hitting special milestones makes it incredibly special for myself and my family," she said.

"I love playing for Scotland, every cap is a blessing, but receiving this one and being recognised by the association and Uefa, I couldn't have dreamt of anything better."

Midfielder Love currently with Glasgow City, has also played in the States as well as England.

She made her international debut at the age of 15, and admits females do get the opportunity of full international football at an earlier age than males.

"There always seems to be one or two breaking into the squad that are very young. One or two are ready to play, so there's no reason why young girls shouldn't be stepping into the squad," said Love.

Jo Love has been playing for Scotland since she was 15
Jo Love has been playing for Scotland since she was 15

Scotland won last month's opening qualifier of the group 3-0 away to Slovenia and they hope to build on that in the double-header against Belarus in Motherwell and Macedonia away on Tuesday, 27 October.

Iceland, who are top seeds, make up the five-team group competing to qualify for the finals in the Netherlands in 2017.

Dieke has regained her match fitness after suffering a serious knee injury at London 2012 and she is determined to make up for lost time by helping the Scots in this qualifying campaign.

"I was out of Scotland action for nearly two years because of the injury," said Dieke.

"But I've now got two full seasons under my belt and I feel fresh, good and physically strong.

"Our aim is to win against Belarus and Macedonia but it's not going to come without hard work.

"We're looking only towards the first game and achieving three points is our focus at the moment."

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