Powell wary of favourites tag
Saturday, 05 September, 2009
England head into Euro semi-final against Holland on Sunday evening.
England will face Holland in their Euro 2009 semi-final in Tampere on Sunday evening, with both teams knowing that the prize for the victor is a European Final place.
England Women's Head Coach, Hope Powell, has been involved in important games for England both as a player and coach but none more so eagerly anticipated than tomorrow night’s clash with the Dutch.
“I’m happy and excited to be here right now," Powell said.
"This is a huge game for both teams and the prize is a Final spot. Neither team will want to have come this far and not reach the Final and we are focused on making sure we do our job properly, play our football and reach our objectives. We know what’s at stake and we will be ready.”
When questioned about being favourites for the game tomorrow, Powell admitted:
“I’m sure there is an expectancy by many for us to win tomorrow evening, simply because we are ranked higher than them. However, not so long ago, we were being written off after losing to Italy in the first game of our group, we were favourites then too and look what happened. The stats on paper go out the window at a major tournament and there have been many surprising results already.
“On Friday, we watched a very good Sweden team, again the favourites to make the semi-final, beaten comprehensively by Norway so it just goes to show you cannot take anything for granted and there will be no hint of complacency from us in that respect.”
Powell also feels the tournament itself shows just how much the game is developing globally.
“I think the tournament has shown how the gap has been narrowed from the rest to the best. Sweden going out last night, Denmark not making it out of the group, Holland surprising everyone with their progress, Italy’s performances in the tournament, it shows just how much the Women’s game is developing around the world and that is a fantastic sign.
“We want more competition and tougher games and for the game to develop in different countries. We want exciting matches and good football played and we are getting that now, this tournament is testament to that.”
On the fact that three of the four semi-finalists have female coaches, Powell was quick to say:
“It’s no coincidence is it? Women coaches are very talented all over the world and perhaps we don’t get the credit we deserve sometimes. I know the majority of the coaches here are men but the most important thing is if that person is suited for their team, male or female. It’s great to see that female coaches are doing so here and we hope our success allows more females to get onto the coaching ladder.”
Powell was also very complimentary about the coach she will be facing on Sunday evening.
“I know the Holland Head Coach, Vera Pauw, very well having played against her in my time and also having run various training courses with her for FIFA. We have often shared ideas and regularly bump into each other around the football circuit. I have the utmost respect for her and what for what she has achieved with her team and I wish her all the best, just not tomorrow night!”
Powell hopes this game and England’s progress will have the desired effect in boosting the national game back home.
“Sometimes the national team has to be successful to help raise the profile of the game in England, within the media, in young players and with fans watching. We’ve had a lot of media interest and coverage back home in the last few days and long may it continue.
“It’s great people are becoming more interested and we can help this with any success on the pitch. Football is now the number one female participation sport in the country and we want to keep it there.”
Meanwhile, England midfielder, Katie Chapman, is under no illusions of what this game means to the players.
“This is the biggest game of my career, full stop,” she admitted.
“All the players are aware of what’s at stake and what frame of mind we need to be in. We are fully focused and raring to go now. It’s hard to describe how you feel on the eve of such a big game but I’m really excited really and can’t wait for the game to come around.”
Chapman and her team-mates watched the penalty shoot-out that saw Holland through against France and is aware that this may become a factor in Tampere.
“Of course, we will do our utmost to win in 90 minutes and we are focused on achieving that, but we will also be ready for penalties should it come to that. We have practised them a lot in training and I’d say we have some pretty good penalty takers in our squad so I’m not too worried, but the pressure of doing it when it matters is different to taking them in training. Hopefully 90 minutes will be enough.”
Chapman also stressed that patience would be a key factor against the Dutch.
“We will have to be at our best to get a result and patience will be a key factor. This will be a tough game but we have to be patient, get the ball down on the ground and pass it quickly. We have our own plans on how we need to break Holland down, it won’t be easy but getting to a Final isn’t.
“If we play to our strengths and everyone performs, we will get the result we want.”