Scotland’s Women’s Under-19 Qualification campaign began in style and ended in slanderous controversy as a sickness bug that knocked down the side has seen them investigated by UEFA, whilst Serbian media made slanderous claims against the players which will not be repeated here. It should be said that UEFA’s investigation is an automatic response to a team not being able to play a scheduled game, and should hopefully see the match replayed at a later date.
Their qualifying group was hosted by Albania and also included Serbia and Cyprus.
Scotland’s opening game was against Albania, and they hit the ground running. Erin Cuthbert, who had made her full Scotland debut in June, captained the Scotland U19s and marked the moment with five goals. Kirsty Hanson scored twice whilst Claire Adams, Sam Kerr, Chelsea Cornet and Carla Boyce all scored once as Scotland won 11-0.
Next up was Cyprus and Scotland continued to find the back of the net. They were 1-0 up at half-time due to Amy Gallacher. In the second half, Courtney Whyte made it 2-0 before Gallacher scored her second. This was the first of four goals in eight minutes with Chantelle Brown, Whyte with her second and Boyce scoring.
Cornet and Kerr scored late on as Scotland won 8-0.
Their final match was against Serbia with the winner progressing to the Elite Round of qualifying although it was likely the runners-up would also qualify.
But due to acute gastroenteritis which impacted nine players and eight members of staff, Scotland’s final game had to be postponed. This happened after a diagnosis was carried out by a local doctor and led to the game’s postponement.
Gareth Evans, the Women’s Under-19 national coach, told the Scottish FA website, “Firstly, the health and wellbeing of the girls is the most important thing and while they are disappointed not to have been able to play the game after two victories, I was more concerned with making sure they got treated and made it home safely.”
“I contacted every one of the girls’ families personally to update them and allay any fears. Some of the players’ families travelled to watch the games and even though they weren’t staying in the same complex, they took ill as well.”
This has seen Scotland charged under Article 26 which refers to a ‘Refusal to play and similar cases’. It was a horrible end to what had been a stunning qualifying group performance and something every player should be proud of.
Hopefully, UEFA will allow the game to be replayed and Scotland will be able to win that match and hopefully, go onto the reach the main tournament which will be held in Northern Ireland. It would also be good to see an apology for the slanderous reports that have appeared in Serbia in relation to the games.