Scotland Women: Lisa Evans eyes ‘emotional’ Euro 2017 finals place

By Bryn PalmerBBC Scotland Sport
Scotland striker Lisa Evans
Lisa Evans is one of 12 players in the squad who play their football outside Scotland

Striker Lisa Evans admits it will be an emotional milestone if Scotland Women maintain their Euro 2017 qualifying form and reach a first major finals.

The Scots have won all five qualifiers to date and host Iceland at Falkirk Stadium on Friday knowing victory would all but secure their place.

But Evans is desperate not to miss out again after play-off losses for Euro 2013 and last year's World Cup.

"Now that we're in this position, it would be devastating," she said.

"We've been so close and fallen at the last hurdle twice now trying to get to major competitions.

"It would be more heartbreak than humiliation."

Iceland, ranked one place aboveexternal-link the Scots at number 20 in the world, are also unbeaten after four wins from four, with the outcome of Friday's contest and the return fixture in Reykjavik on 20 September likely to decide who tops the group.

"Obviously reaching the finals is everyone's aim," said 24-year-old Bayern Munich forward Evans. "It's been my aim since I got into the squad, and [veteran goalkeeper] Gemma Fay has been aiming for it for 15 years.

"I think it's going to be emotional if we do get there, although we're taking it step by step, trying not to think too far ahead."

Scotland's qualifying campaign so far
Apr 2016: H Slovenia W 3-1
Nov 2015: H Macedonia W 10-0
Oct 2015: A Macedonia W 4-1
Oct 2015: H Belarus W 7-0
Sep 2015: A Slovenia W 3-0

With the best six of the eight group runners-up also qualifying automatically, Scotland are in pole position to reach next summer's finals in the Netherlands without the need for a play-off.

"Iceland are top seeds in the group," Evans noted. "They're a really good side and we've always had tough games against them.

"But we know we've got a really good chance to beat them.

"It would be fantastic to have a big crowd at Falkirk. Having the fans behind us makes a huge difference."

Rapturous reception with Robben and Ribery

Evans is one of 12 players in the current 20-strong squad who play outside Scotland, with five at English clubs, four in Sweden and two at Seattle Reign in the United States National Women's Soccer League, including newly-crowned BBC Women's Footballer of the Year Kim Little.

Perth-born Evans recently celebrated winning the women's Bundesliga in her first season at Bayern, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben as they joined the victorious men's squad for a rapturous reception on the balcony at Munich's New Town Hall.

Lisa Evans and Franck Ribery celebrate Bayern Munich's triumphs
Evans (second left) celebrated Bayern's titles alongside Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery

"It was mind-blowing, completely mind-blowing," she recalled. "There were thousands of people cheering when we came out.

"We had a party with the men's team on the Saturday night, having been in their stadium on the Saturday just to get congratulated.

"I actually walked out with Franck Ribery at the Town Hall, but, in the photos, Arjen Robben is in the background. I don't know them very well, but they were all really chatty, really good with us."

Evans, who won four Scottish Women's Premier League titles and six domestic cups with Glasgow City before moving to Germany with Turbine Potsdam, believes the benefits of having more players in the world's top leagues benefits the national team as they close in on a first major finals.

"Germany has been at the top of women's football for a long time now - it has really developed over there," she added.

"The league is good, arguably one of the best in the world for competitiveness, and we have a hard game every week.

"Even within the Bayern set-up, there is such good competition. Just being able to train with those players every day makes you better. I'm really privileged.

"The league in Scotland is improving, but the girls playing abroad bring something different.

"It is a different culture, a new way of playing, and that adds to the national team."