England winger wants an accomplished display in Paris
France v England
A Women’s International
7.50pm BST, Saturday 20 October 2012
Charlety Stadium, Paris
Live on BBC Three
by Glenn Lavery
Rachel Yankey believes England’s game against France on Saturday will provide Hope Powell’s side with the chance to end the year on a high.
The Three Lions capitalised on the euphoria surrounding women’s football following London 2012 by qualifying for next summer’s European Championship Finals.
Yankey, England Women’s most capped player, now wants to put on a decent performance in Paris to enter the new year in a good frame of mind.
She said: “It’s a chance for us to gain confidence as a team.
“We have qualified and now we want to prepare properly. We expect big things from ourselves.”
Bruno Bini’s France have been improving of late. They knocked England out of the 2011 World Cup, finished fourth at the Olympics and are now ranked fifth in the world, with a number of their squad enjoying Champions League success with Lyon in recent seasons.
France also beat England the last time the two nations met, in the Cyprus Cup in March, and Yankey knows England must prove they can live with one of the best teams on the continent.
She declared: “We have got to compete with teams like France.
“But whether we win, lose or draw, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about how players perform on the pitch.
“Beating big nations does breed confidence, but last year we beat Sweden and USA before the World Cup. That didn’t mean we assumed we were the best team in the world. One good result won’t make us world beaters.”
England qualified unbeaten for the Euros. They drew the opening qualifier away in Serbia, conceding an added time equaliser after leading 2-0.
But they won six of the remaining seven matches, sealing their place at Sweden 2013 with a comfortable 3-0 win over Croatia last month.
In fact, England haven’t lost a qualifying game since November 2002 when, ironically, France beat them in a play-off for the following year’s World Cup.
Yankey is pleased to have extended that unbeaten run but has urged her side to up the ante ahead of next summer’s tournament.
She added: “It’s great that we qualified unbeaten.
“Performance-wise I think we can still do better. We can work on that, though, over the next few months.
“We want to go into the Euros feeling confident and make other teams fear us.”