Donside Girls are under “no illusions”, and know they’ll have to play to the “best of our ability” to win this weekend’s SWF U13s Youth Scottish Cup Final, according to coach Neil Daniel.
The Aberdeenshire side arrive at Oriam having scored 40 goals in six matches en route to the final, but in Musselburgh Windsor they’ll be coming up against a team that’s scored 44 goals this campaign.
“They’re a very strong team and we just need to play to the best of our ability,” said Daniel. “All we can do is concentrate on our own game.”
It’s been a fantastic run to the final for Donside; victories over Colony Park, EKFC Girls, Ayr United, Hearts Development and Central Girls Legends were topped by a hard-fought 4-3 semi-final win over Kilmarnock Whites at Toryglen at the end of September:
“Honestly, it was a very tough match to be involved in, because Kilmarnock are a very physical side,” Daniel admitted. “For the players to come through it is testament to their character.
“We’re probably not used to being involved in games like that, so we were delighted to come through a very, very tough tie.”
Conquering Killie means another long journey for Donside – who have by far the furthest to travel of any of the six teams competing at Oriam this Saturday – but Daniel doesn’t feel like the early start and miles on the road will negatively impact his team’s chances this weekend:
“I think playing away from home is a fantastic experience for the players,” he said. “A lot of comradery is created travelling down together and going back up regardless of the result, so I think it’s been great.
“At the start of the competition we genuinely didn’t set goals of reaching the final; the target was one home tie and one away match just to give the girls a footballing experience of travelling together and playing a team from a different region, but we’re elated to get here.
“The one negative of having to travel is that not everybody that would normally come to see us will be there because of the journey, but we’ll still have a good support and I’m sure they’ll be in fine voice.”
And this is truly a team worth backing. In both league and cup competition they’ve been a free-scoring and exciting team to watch, something Daniel believes is down to the players attitude:
“When it’s time for a training session everybody wants to be there, which is a sign of their commitment, how close they are as a group and how much that want to play football, it’s brilliant.
“Scoring lots of goals has just been a bonus because we concentrate on doing the hard work, it’s been great to watch.”
They’ll be up against a strong Musselburgh side who Daniel reveals they have nothing but respect for.
He said: “I made a point of talking to their coach and some of the Musselburgh parents.
“They’re a community club as well, and there’s nothing but positivity from us for what they’ve done and what they’re doing.
“We’re really looking forward to meeting them in the final.”
But although the match will be played in good spirit, it is still a national final and the stakes are high:
“I think the most important thing for the players will be to not let the occasion get to them,” said Daniel. “We need to try and play with a smile on our face because that’s what we’ve done all the way through this competition.
“We want to try and keep the pressure away from the players and tell them to go and enjoy the moment and enjoy playing football – which is what they do best.”