For the first time since 1998, Scotland has been awarded the right to host an international football tournament; the 2019 UEFA Women’s Under 19s European Championship finals, after a UEFA meeting in Nyon. The tournament, set to be hosted by Northern Ireland next year, will be the first UEFA organised final in Scotland since the UEFA Cup final in 2007, which took place at Hampden Park.
The last time Scotland hosted a UEFA tournament was in 1998, when the UEFA Under 16 European Championship took place. The final took place at McDiarmid Park, with Fir Park and Forthbank Stadium amongst the other venues used.
The tournament, which was eventually won the Republic of Ireland, featured sides such as Italy and Spain, who finished as runners up and third place respectively. Scotland, however, finished bottom of their strong group that year; and will be hoping for different fortunes when they host another European tournament in 2019.
The current holders of the competition are four-time winners France, who defeated Spain this summer in Slovakia – the third year in a row that Spain have fallen at the final hurdle.
Scotland are no strangers to this tournament, as they reached the finals in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014; unfortunately, the group stage seemed to be a level too far, after failing to progress to the knockout stage on each occasion. Hopefully, within their home nation, Scotland can go one step further in 2019.
The current WU19 qualification campaign has been a successful one so far, with Scotland finishing second in their group, behind Serbia and progressing to the elite round, where they will play Ireland, Ukraine and Finland in a bid to reach the finals next year. Scotland go into the Elite Round in strong form, having comfortably seen off Albania and Cyprus 11-0 and 8-0 respectively in the group stage.
Having reached the Elite Round for the last two years in a row, it could be a case of third time lucky for Scotland, who will be hoping that Chelsea's latest recruit Erin Cuthbert, who is their top scorer so far with five, can produce the same form that she displayed in the earlier stage. The defence is also yet to be breached, with Rebecca Flaherty keeping clean sheets in both of her appearances so far.
Looking ahead at the 2019 event, a number of the current batch of WU17 players (pictured, above) could take centre stage. They impressed at the recent qualifying round held in Edinburgh, coming second behind France to quality for an Elite Round of their own.
Promising signs for Scotland so far, and they will be hoping to carry this all the way into 2019, when they host the UEFA Women’s Under 19s European Championship.