2016 will go down as the best year in Scottish women’s footballing history.
Anna Signeul took over the national team 10 years ago and has revitalised the women’s game, steadily improving results over the years and wiping out recent years of hurt at the play-off stages by securing Scotland’s place at Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.
Drawn in a group with Iceland, Slovenia, Belarus and FYR Macedonia Scotland finished second, scoring 30 goals in the eight games, conceding only seven.
The women lost only once in the group, against Iceland at home, and as they entered the final match against the Icelandic national side, excitement levels were on an all-time high, knowing that a win would secure qualification
During the training camp all focus was on the game with half an eye on matches being played elsewhere which could also determine their fate.
There were a number of different permutations but a Portugal victory over Finland ensured Scotland’s place in The Netherlands next year.
In the immediate aftermath Scotland captain and goalkeeper, Gemma Fay said: “We’d been close to qualifying three times before and had to have the chat saying ‘we’ll do it next time’.
“This year we said to ourselves there would be no more ‘next time’ and there would be no play-offs for us.
“To qualify with a game to spare was a great achievement.”
In November the draw was made for Euro 2017 and Scotland are set to take on rivals England, Spain and Portugal next year in the Netherlands.
Before that though, Anna Signeul will take her side overseas to play in the Cyprus Cup to aid preparations.
Scotland have been drawn in a group alongside Austria, Korea Republic and New Zealand for the tournament which will be played between 27 February and 9 March.
The Scots have played in the tournament nine years out of the last 10 years.
Anna Signeul said: “Having so many competitive games coming thick and fast will be of great benefit to us.
“We will work with a squad of 23 players over there, which is the same amount we are allowed at the Euros.
“North Korea and New Zealand are both ranked very highly and although Austria are ranked lower than us they are a real up and coming side.
“All the teams play different styles and that will test us too. The environment is perfect over there in terms of the quality of pitches and training facilities. It will act as ideal preparation for us.
“2016 was an incredible year for us and now we’re aiming to do better in 2017 and make a real impact in the Euros.”