Martinez Losa explains Scotland prep for behind-closed-doors Israel game

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Martinez Losa explains Scotland prep for behind-closed-doors Israel game

Scotland host Israel in a Euro 2025 qualifier at Hampden Park on May 31; stadium operations team were alerted to the potential for planned disruptions during the game resulting in stadium closure for fans; Scotland’s away fixture will take place in Hungary on June 4 behind closed doors

Thursday 30 May 2024 20:20, UK

Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa says his side are trying to focus on football amid the difficult circumstances surrounding their double-header against Israel.

Protesters are set to gather outside Hampden on Friday to call for Israel to be expelled from international football amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, and the Women’s Euro 2025 qualifier will take place behind closed doors following concerns over planned disruption.

The Scottish Football Association said earlier this month that the decision to play without fans had been taken following “extensive security consultations”, while police say that plans are in place to “maintain public safety and minimise any disruption to the community”.

UEFA has ordered the game to go ahead and Scotland are looking to take six points from the Hampden encounter and next Tuesday’s return match in Budapest to boost their play-off hopes.

Martinez Losa said: “You want to keep the maximum focus on what you can control, and that is the training and the competition. That’s what we are here for.

“But, of course, in any camp when there are circumstances, not only on this occasion, we have always had an initial chat and there are discussions also with the leadership group if there is any concern or any way we need to help the players.

“That has been the process from the first day, to touch on the things that were relevant, and then decide from that moment to try and focus on the aspects that we can control.

“There is a novel part of not showing we are not sensitive to any circumstances. We are. But the other aspect is focusing on what really matters for us when we are representing this badge and performing for Scotland, which is the dream of some of these players since they were little girls.”

The Spaniard is trying to negate the impact of playing with no fans.

“We have done some work with the group on research on the impact of games being played behind closed doors,” he said.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 03: A general stadium view during a cinch Championship match between Queen's Park and Airdrieonians at Hampden Park, on May 03, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

“Obviously common sense is the motivational aspect of not having your fans and how that affects the players.

“Both teams will be in the same conditions and also the players have done some work on how we can compensate for this. We have to remove any frustration, we can’t control it.”

Defender Sophie Howard will try her best to focus on football amid the protests, which have been organised by the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee.

“In the end, we are human,” Howard said. “We know what’s going on. I’d lie if I said we don’t know what’s going on and we completely shut everything out. But we are trained to do that.

“As elite athletes, we are trained to shut off any external noise and distraction and that’s exactly what we are going to do. We are focused on playing football and getting the job done on the pitch. Everything else is not up to us.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 31:  Scotland Head Coach Pedro Martinez Losa during a UEFA Womens Nations League match between Scotland and The Netherlands at Hampden Park, on October 31, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Meanwhile, Martinez Losa explained why he addressed reports linking him with the vacant role at Lyon with his players at the start of their training camp in Spain.

“For me, I was very clear with the group,” he said. “Obviously there is speculation which I cannot control, when you guys in the media have your views and opinions.

“We are all committed to the same objective. I am totally committed to my job here, with the players. I am here because I really wanted to be here. I left my position in another club to be here in different conditions. That’s what we discussed with the players and the staff.”

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