Celtic FC Women are back this Sunday as the Hoops look to go out with a bang against Hearts in the capital. This is the final game of 2023 and may well turn out to be the last match in charge of the team for Celtic’s outstanding manager Fran Alonso, amid reports that he is attracting interest across the Atlantic.
Tellingly there was no media conference for the women’s team this week, instead Fran spoke to Celtic TV earlier today and the conversation was very all about the trip to Edinburgh o Sunday afternoon to take on Hearts.
“It’s key that we finish on a high. We have been outstanding this season so far with only one league defeat, so we want to get the three points, Fran Alonso told Celtic TV. “We’re looking forward to finishing the year as strong as possible. We have scored 80 goals in 15 league games so our confidence is very high.
“The team is training well and it’s going to be a tough game and if we impose our game we will be confident. We know it will be a tough game as last year we won 5-1 against Hearts and in another, we won 2-1 and they had chances to equalise.
“We know it will be a tough test but we have faith in ourselves and if we play at our level we can get three points.”
Celtic last played on Hearts at the Excelsior in September, in an exciting encounter that ended 3-2 in the Ghirls favour. Goals from Caitlin Hayes, Paula Partido, and Shen Menglu, as well as a red card for the visitors, helped secure all three points after the visitors had raced into an early 2-0 lead.
“I remember being absolutely gutted when we conceded the second goal,” Fran Alonso recalled as he looked back on that memorable match earlier this season. “We had just played in the Champions League and it was heart-breaking for the team but we changed things and in the second-half we were totally dominant.
“We showed the team the difference between both 45 minutes and the second-half is the version we need to replicate on Sunday. Credit to our opponents as in the last two years they have taken points from our main two title contenders, so we have to be at our best.’
“They are very good on the counter-attack and they have two number 10s with good ability. We will try and control the game but they often score against us so we know they are a big threat. It’s very important we keep our concentration levels and we try and compose our game.
“Away from home it’s very hard and we know that and hopefully we can finish the year strong,” the Celtic manager said.
In their last five league games, Hearts have three wins, one draw (against Glasgow City), and one loss. They have scored 16 and conceded five during this time.
As we all know, Celtic need a win to stay in touching distance in the title race – theRangers still lead by one point after their Glasgow Derby win over the Celts two months ago.
Three points for Hearts could allow them to move into fourth, overtaking Partick Thistle. Thistle would have to lose or draw their game against Glasgow City for this to be a possibility.
Kit Loferski and Lucy Ashworth-Clifford are unavailable for this fixture. LAC recently returned to training after suffering an ACL injury at the end of 2022. We will hopefully see her sometime in the New Year, but as far as we know, she is not match-ready as of yet, but had there been a media conference we’d have been able to find out.
Score prediction time! Hearts 1-2 Celtic FC Women for me while our Editor reckons that Celtic will win 4-0. I think Hearts will give us a good game but the Ghirls will close off a memorable 2023 with an important victory.
Let’s hope that this won’t be Fran Alonso’s last game for us on the touchline, as his departure has been heavily rumoured in the last two weeks. If it is, I wish him all the best as does everyone at The Celtic Star and I’m sure the vast majority of our support will too.
If you’re planning on going to Edinburgh for the game, the kick-off time is at 4.10pm on Sunday afternoon (17 December) and the venue is Oriam Performance Centre, Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh Campus, Edinburgh EH14 4AS. The game will also be available to watch on BBC Alba for those who can’t make it along.
Come on you Ghirls in green!