Pedro Martinez Losa was appointed Scotland coach this summer
The Spaniard is aiming to get the best out of his players
Scotland face Spain next week in FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying
Pedro Martinez Losa came into women’s football almost by chance after being offered the coach’s job at Women’s Superliga side, CF Pozuelo de Alorcon, in 2007, when he was just 21. Martinez Losa was keen to develop quickly and accepted the challenge, but he could never have envisaged what would happen after that.
"I knew absolutely nothing about women’s football," he told FIFA.com. "I was young, I was eager to learn and I was at Atletico Madrid’s academy. "I was given the opportunity to coach at Pozuelo. It was a chance to progress, to coach at the highest level much earlier that I thought I’d be able to in men’s football. From then on, I kept getting more opportunities to develop and I became a specialist in women’s football." Over the next 13 years, his desire for rapid progress led him to success in women’s football in Spain, the USA, England and France, before being offered the Scotland job this summer.
The Spaniard told FIFA.com that his objectives as Scotland boss, both on and off the pitch, are to overcome the loss of Kim Little and to give Spain a run for their money in their qualifying group for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™.
A sought-after opportunity
Scotland did not call him by chance. Such was his reputation in the women’s game, it was only a matter of time until a national team came calling. “Women’s football has been my path, where I developed and had opportunities," he said. "I’ve always looked at it like representing your country, aspiring for the best, and taking part in a World Cup. That was one of my possibilities. I thought about coaching a national team and then the Scotland job came up.”
Having worked at many clubs, including Rayo Vallecano, Millwall, Arsenal and Bordeaux, Martinez Losa certainly knows his stuff. He took the Scotland job not just to achieve his on-field objectives, but also because the Scottish FA has asked him to take women’s football in Scotland as far as he possibly can.
"The first thing I’ve suggested is to build a culture of excellence and hard work based on a specific identity and shared team values, to build the DNA of a Scottish footballer," he explained. "What does it mean to play for Scotland? What type of player does the nation need? We want to develop our style of play through this type of player.
"Before taking on this role, I did quite a bit of preparation, I was aware of how things might be for me. Things have changed, since we spend less time with the players, but the planning and the means at my disposal are more exciting. The chance to represent a nation like Scotland motivates me… and dreaming about taking part in a World Cup or EURO.”
A big loss
The first hurdle he has had to overcome, and of which he was already aware before taking the job, is Kim Little’s retirement from international football. “She’s irreplaceable, a world-class player who has shown that for many years," said Martinez Losa. "I knew her and I was aware of the news. "You must celebrate her career, continue to enjoy watching her play and respect her decision. We’ll carry on moving forward and give other players an opportunity, and I’m sure they’ll be eager to accept the challenge."
Scotland are looking to qualify for their second FIFA Women’s World Cup after making their debut in 2019. As you would expect, Martinez Losa is trying to take the positives from Scotland’s unsuccessful bid to reach the UEFA Women’s EURO 2020 so he can work on them.
“When I arrived, I saw a group that was keen to put things right and to find another way to get back to that same level," he said. "We couldn’t forget that Scotland had qualified for a World Cup and EURO for the first time. We’re now lucky to have a generation of players who are capable of qualifying and achieving our objective.”
An old foe
Next Tuesday, Scotland face a tough World Cup qualifier away to Spain, a team Martinez Losa knows very well. He feels “they’re the team that plays the best football in the world. On a conceptual level, they’re far superior to the rest.” Worryingly for Scotland, Spain have become something of a bête noire for them in European and World Cup qualifying.
“We all remember that famous game when Veronica Boquete scored [in added time at the end of extra-time] to qualify for the EURO in 2013," he said. "Since I’ve been following women’s football, it seems there’s always one particular team you keep running into, and that’s been Scotland a few times for Spain."
The two nations head into the latest round of qualifiers level on points, with three wins from three, and will face the Faroe Islands and Ukraine respectively before their much-anticipated encounter on 30 November in Seville.
“They’re favourites to win the group," said Martinez Losa of Spain. "We’re neck and neck, but we’ve got a tricky fixture against Ukraine first. We want to take things one game at a time. Facing Spain will be an honour, but there are five teams in this group and each game is important.”
La Roja are an emerging force, coming increasingly closer to winning a major tournament. "You can compare them to the men’s side, where the strong group of Barça players dictated the style and played a different type of football to their opponents," said Martinez Losa. "Spain still need to take that next step, getting to a final and winning it. But at the conceptual level, you can see what they’re capable of doing in any game.”
The coach is forthright on the topic of Scotland’s World Cup campaign and the specific things he hopes to see: “We’re a team that likes to get on the ball, to express ourselves and that wants the fans on our side, to be our 12th man in many of the games we play at Hampden Park.
“I want us to play attractive football so the fans can identify with the team, to inspire generations of girls and women in Scotland, so that the team is remembered for achieving something special during these years.”
Images courtesy of the Scottish FA.