England captain says record FIFA ranking justifies progress.
England captain Faye White believes her side’s new all-time high of sixth in FIFA’s Women’s World Rankings verifies the progress the Three Lions have made in the last four years.
At the 2007 World Cup, their first for 12 years, England were not viewed to be among the leading contenders but managed to reach the last eight where they were eliminated by USA. Hope Powell’s charges continued on an upward curve and a silver medal at the European Championship two years later saw them climb to a previous best of eighth in the rankings.
Qualification to their second consecutive World Cup Finals duly followed and warm-up victories over USA and Sweden, two of the top five sides in the world, evidenced the sustained improvement that had been made. The fourth ranked side, and eventual world champions, Japan, were put to the sword in the group stage and, despite an agonising quarter final exit to France, these three victories helped England climb four places on FIFA’s official list.
“It’s great news,” said White. “Obviously we would have liked to have gone further in the World Cup but this new ranking clearly shows that we are progressing.
“We’ve beaten some top sides recently, but what I like to look at is how far we’ve come since the last World Cup, both in terms of results and of what is expected of us.
“Four years ago in China we lost 3-0 to America, but we beat them 2-1 the last time we played them. In this World Cup we were expected to top our group, a group which contained the eventual winners, so people now think that we should be winning every game, which I suppose is a compliment.
“And we were just two minutes away from getting to our first-ever World Cup semi-final as well, so we are definitely making progress and we know that on our day we can beat anyone.”
White and her England team-mates will next be in action in just under two months’ time when the qualification process for Euro 2013 gets underway. England travel to Serbia on 17 September before entertaining Slovenia five days later and White wants to get off to the best possible start.
“We are looking forward now and we want to get some good results under our belts in the first few qualifiers,” she admitted. “It will be tough, but if we can keep getting good results in games that matter then we can put ourselves in a strong position early on and hopefully our ranking will continue to improve as well.”