Euro 2017: Ifeoma Dieke grateful for fan support and hopeful of creating a legacy in Scotland

After their bruising 1-2 defeat to Portugal we spoke to Scottish defender, Ifeoma Dieke about the loss and the travelling Tartan Army.

Falling down on the basics

On top in the early exchanges, Scotland failed to convert a handful of good chances before Portugal settled into the game and made them pay for their missed opportunities,

What went wrong? I don’t really know, I guess putting the ball in the back of the net…

After they found their groove Portugal took advantage of a failed cleared from Vaila Barsley and left Scotland off of the pace,

They dominated, we started out well, were the better team and then sucker-punched and it took us a while to regroup and I thought once we got back in it, you know, we had the momentum again.

Unfortunately for Scotland the two Portugal goals stemmed from poor defending, a hangover from their evening to forget in Utrecht when southern neighbours, England hammered six past them without remorse,

Last game was bad defending and again at this level you make mistakes you know and teams punish you and that seems to be what’s happened to us.”

Facing huge changes in Scotland with not just long-term boss Anna Signeul leaving her post to take charge of Finland but a high number of the old guard primed for international retirement, Dieke is sure that whilst the two losses have left their mark on the squad the team will be stronger for their experience next time they make it to a major tournament,

We can be disappointed about now and that’s what it is about now but for me looking at the overall picture, this experience will do a lot of the young players that are in that dressing room the world of good in four years’ time it will be a different perspective and I guess that’s what the focus will switch.

Not expecting to lose to Portugal (ranked #38 in the world to Scotland’s #21), Dieke goes back to the team’s failure to capitalise when it mattered, a familiar story for footballers and teams across the world,

It’s an experience, we couldn’t come into our first tournament and expect to win it, we did expect to compete and do better – at this stage we expected to get the win but we didn’t defend well enough and didn’t put the ball in the back of the net when we were on top and that’s what mattered.

Not just put on the back foot in the first-half but struggling against the general gainsmanship of the team, the Vittsjö defender is clearly left frustrated by Portugal’s attempts to slow and break the game down,

They’re very good when it comes to time wasting, game management, whatever you want to call it, and that frustrates so we can’t get the ball and speed it up and play how we want to play."

Travelling support

At the maiden tournament, the team might not have known what to expect from the legendary Tartan Army but the fans have followed them out to the Netherlands, filling both host cities (so far) with voice and kilts. Their presence at both games filling the players will pride, even with results not going their way the contingent of Scottish fans have never wavered,

“It’s brilliant, it’s a brilliant experience for us to feel that, to feel the love of the fans. Even after getting beaten by England and after getting beaten now, they’re still proud you know, we’ll look back on this and realise it’s a special moment and the support we’ve had and we’ve been given.

Having made history by qualifying for the expanded tournament as one of the best second place finishers in their group, Scotland’s goals weren’t just about going to the tournament and getting results on the pitch but rather to have a lasting impact back in Scotland,

We talked about not just qualifying but creating a legacy and hopefully with the numbers watching back home and showing our efforts out here, hopefully they can see that we can play football and become role models for young girls – not just girls but young people across Scotland and we’ll see after this what effect this is creating, hopefully it’s been a positive one.