After almost a month without a game Celtic FC Women return today away to Falkirk in the 12.30pm kick-off as the defence of the Scottish Cup gets underway.
Fran opened by speaking about the importance for the players, especially the ones from abroad, getting the chance to go home to spend quality time with there families over the Christmas break and reports that the team have now been back for a week with no injury worries other than the longer term ones.
Celtic’s disappointment at losing out on the League Cup, through an incredible referee decision you will recall, has only strengthened the desire to retain the Scottish Cup today and that campaign begins at lunchtime today at the Falkirk Stadium.
Last May’s 3-2 Scottish Cup Final win over Glasgow City at Tynecastle was a real highlight for Fran Alonso and his squad and they are keen to retain the trophy and also push on in the SWPL1 to win the league this season.
“We won this cup for the first time in our history last year, and we would love to at least get to the final,” Fran said. We know it’s at Hampden so it’s a massive incentive for us and we will prepare for this game like any other. Despite the opposition being from a lower division, they won’t be underestimated and we want to be in the final.”
There’s also an Under 18’s Cup Final for Celtic this afternoon again against Glasgow City so there could be some silverware coming back to Paradise later today!
“That was the most special day I’ve had in football,” Fran Alonso told The Celtic Star reflecting on last season’s Scottish Cup Final win. “I can’t wait to repeat it and I think that the players are exactly the same.”
We asked Fran Alonso about moving the crucial league match game against theRangers at the end of February to Celtic Park, looking to repeat the successful exercise for the Celtic B team who got a big support and a brilliant 5-2 win over theRangers at the end of December.
And Fran explained how his team set up to cope with the handball rule and gives his opinion on whether he’d like to see VAR introduced into the Scottish women’s game.
We also asked the Celtic FC Women manager if there will be any transfer activity this month and Fran Alonso confirmed that things are afoot. “There is, it’s not 100% confirmed so I am not in a position to say but I can that there will be at least one out, maybe two but probably just one and at least two in, maybe three but at least two in so we will give names as soon as we are allowed.”
Fran admits that he doesn’t know too much about today’s opponents but nevertheless has the Celtic FC Women team fully prepared and confirms that lower league Falkirk will be respected opponents.
Last time out at the Falkirk Stadium, there was a bit of extra time magic to book our place in the Scottish Cup final❤️🔥
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) January 5, 2023
“We couldn’t get as much footage so our opposition analysis couldn’t be as detailed as we normally do it, but we did the exact same process,” Fran explained. “We don’t want players to underestimate them and therefore we cannot underestimate them as a staff, so preparation has been exactly the same.
“Fitness levels have been better than expected. They are fighting for positions so it’s important for them not to switch off and it’s been very good. We will play the players who train better and will go as full strength as we can.”
“We love to go game by game and don’t want to put targets on ourselves, but I think we are playing the best football we have played in the last three years,” the Celtic manager added.
“In terms of chances created, we are the top team in the league in many of the stats, which gives us a lot of confidence. Of course, at the moment, we are third in the league but I like how the players are fighting between themselves and improving individually and I really like how they are playing. We have conceded only two goals in the league which is incredible.”
With home games against theRangers and Glasgow City (who lost their manager over the holidays) Celtic can really push forward with the title push to deliver the first ever league title for the club, the year after Fran Alonso’s side won the Scottish Cup for the first time ever.
Playing these big games at Celtic Park makes sense, Celtic – let’s get it done!
Watch Fran Alonso’s Media Conference ahead of today’s trip to the Falkirk Stadium for the 12.20pm kick-off below…
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) January 7, 2023
🗣 “We don’t want players to underestimate them and therefore we cannot underestimate them as a staff, so preparation has been exactly the same.”
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) January 6, 2023
⚡️ Matchday ⚡️
A new cup campaign begins today!🤩
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) January 8, 2023
Big exciting Sunday ahead! First match of 2023
🏆 Scottish Cup R4 for the Ghirls followed by our
🏆 U'18's Cup Final
— Fran Alonso (@FranAlonsoFA) January 8, 2023