'Grab it with both hands'
Wednesday, 02 September, 2009
England ‘keeper Rachel Brown looks ahead to the quarter final against Finland
England Women’s team came through a tough group to reach the quarter final of the European Championship for the first time since 1995 and they now face an exciting fixture against the tournament hosts, Finland.
A sending off and a defeat to Italy in their opening game dampened the optimism and hopes of a squad that arrived ready to make their mark at a major tournament. A tight 3-2 victory against Russia in their second game was followed by their best performance so far, drawing 1-1 with Sweden - and in doing so ending a run of eleven consecutive wins by the Swedes - that confirmed their spot in the last eight.
However, England goalkeeper, Rachel Brown, is adamant that their best form is yet to come.
“The last game was all about the result,” she said.
“We are in a tournament and what matters most is getting out of the group and making the knockout stages. We have done that, even though we have yet to play at our best, and I definitely think this team has a lot more to offer this tournament.
“Our form has been a little patchy,” she continued, “but I think last night we were a lot tighter defensively and much harder to break down. I think I made two or three saves in the whole game and this was against one of the world’s best teams, so I think we have improved on the defensive side of our game and that’s something we have been looking at. We have good attacking players that can change games and hopefully this will prove important in the knockout stages.”
Brown also praised the courage of the squad in a week where the character of the team has been tested.
“We came into this tournament with high expectations and The we got off to the worst possible start against Italy, being reduced to ten players. Losing the game hurt and put pressure on us going into the Russia game. That game didn’t go our way either at the start, but this team seems to play better when we are up against it, and I thought coming back from 2-0 down to win the game showed the capability and toughness of our team.
“We’ve had obstacles to overcome already in the tournament and we are still in it, looking forward to a huge quarter final.”
On facing Finland, Brown insisted the whole squad was focused.
“Finland will be a tough test for us after Sweden and we will not be complacent. Perhaps we underestimated Italy slightly and if anything, looking back, that was a wake up call to us. We will not be underestimating any team again at this tournament, especially a host nation who have been playing good football and will have a capacity crowd behind them.
“We need to take our performance against Sweden, improve on it where we can and make sure we do the right things against Finland. It has the potential to be a great game in front of a big crowd and we will be up for it, as will they. There’s a semi-final spot at stake and everyone is focused on Thursday afternoon.”
Brown also admits that getting to the semi-final will be a huge achievement in her international career.
“We didn’t make it out of the group stage in 2005 and it was disappointing, and ironic, that we actually needed a result against Sweden in our last game then as we did on Monday, but this time we got it. And we did well to reach the quarter final in [the 2007 World Cup in] China but this would be a huge step for us.
“Getting to the semis will hopefully show how much we’ve improved over the last four years and that all the hard work we have done in getting here has been worth it. We need to make all the work done by the management, the staff and the players count on Thursday night.
“This is the position we wanted to be in and we have to grab the opportunity with both hands.”