Aberdeen Women v Rangers | SC Preview
Aberdeen FC Women co-managers, Emma Hunter and Harley Hamdani spoke ahead of the Dons SSE Scottish Women’s Cup quarter-final against Rangers Women on Sunday. The Reds will again be underdogs as they take on the SWPL1 side but the managers will prepare for the game as they have done for every other match this season.
“It is important to us that we treat and prepare for all games in the same way no matter what the occasion or who we are playing and that goes for both players and the staff. We take a huge pride in every performance and game we play and it is important we set that as our standard.
“I feel that is why we have the players we have and the team performances we have had over the season. Rangers will undoubtedly be a different type of opposition to those we have already played, but again we believe in our players our style of football and most importantly our desire and determination to do well.
“We always analyse our opponent’s, but make sure we also focus on ourselves and how we want to play. It is very much a two-way process and the players play a huge part in this and again is part of the reason I believe we are doing so well”.
“Our preparation is the same for every game, we focus on ourselves and how to adapt based on the opportunities and threats we see in the opponent we face that week. This week is no different, we have a way in which we want to play the game, while simultaneously we’re mindful of what the opposition will bring, in this case a lot of quality in and out of possession.
“There’s a lot of preparation going into this week’s game, but no more so than we would put into each week’s work – to achieve what we want as a group we must approach each game in a similar manner”.
The Dons have overcome sides in leagues above them in the last two rounds in the form of Spartans and Kilmarnock and although that will undoubtedly boost confidence ahead of this weekend, it will also have alerted Rangers to the possible dangers the underdogs possess.
“I think for sure Rangers will have looked at both of our previous cup results and realised that we will be tough opposition for them, but I also think that this is now the Quarter Finals and every team have done well and worked hard to get there so would always expect a tough game at this stage. In terms of our confidence, I felt we were confident going into both the Kilmarnock and Spartans games that we could get a result and again it’s something we value and work on with the team. I think knowing you can and then actually doing it does you give you that extra bit confidence”.
“I’m sure that Rangers will be similar to ourselves in that they respect every opponent they face, so I don’t believe there would be any element of surprise lost. The fact that we have achieved such positive results absolutely provides us with the confidence that the work that is being applied by everyone is steering the Club in the right direction.
“There is a good amount of belief in the what we’re doing and the results achieved against Spartans and Kilmarnock will of course feed into that belief and strengthen it”.
The league season is heading towards its climax with the Dons in pole position to win SWFL1 North and with it, promotion to SWPL2. They have been given a taste of the level that awaits them as Kilmarnock, who they knocked out in the last round, are currently in that league and the joint managers feel their team can more than compete there.
“The league above is extremely competitive and there isn’t a huge jump in terms of those mid table and those at the top. We know we have the players that are capable of competing at that higher level, but it is important that we work on that overall 90 mins of maintaining our style of play. We want to play those types games week in and week out as that is how we develop both the individual players and collectively as a team. I think our cup runs have given us more hunger to get there”.
“We’ve worked extremely hard this season towards promotion, we all want to be competing at that level and the cup games this season have just given us more of an appetite to get there. We’ve got to remain focused, keep showing the desire to improve and continue to find ways to win each game until the very last day of the season, only then can we think around what to expect next season”.
Whilst the Dons are in their inaugural season as being part of the club, Sunday’s opponents Rangers have invested heavily in their women’s set-up which they plan on expanding in the hope of becoming professional in the near future. It’s a sign of how big a gap the Reds are trying to bridge on Sunday, both on and off the playing field.
“Rangers have played under the club banner for quite some time now and have invested significantly in the women’s game, especially over the last year with a member of staff looking after the women’s and girl’s football full time.
“They are a young team and have reaped the rewards of having an academy set up, but equally unlike Aberdeen, they are very close to other big clubs and therefore have competition in terms of keeping players. It is in my opinion important that we look at this as more and more clubs invest more into girls’ and women’s game that we don’t fall behind”.
“At the moment, with Rangers sitting in the SWPL 1, there’s no surprise that they are ahead with a more experienced squad and their recent announcement on future plans, building on an already established and successful player pathway, this should be the expectation within the top flight of Scottish Football.
“But we believe that we are closing that gap and the club have ambitions for us to close the gap within an aspiring and positive timescale. We feel as a club and coaching team that we are already providing a quality level of infrastructure behind the women’s team, and with the new training ground on the horizon and the continuous development that is taking place within all areas of the Football Club to support the women’s team, this will only improve and allow for greater success moving forward”.