'We got everything right'
Sunday, 22 August, 2010
Hope Powell pleased to end qualifying campaign on a positive note.
by Tony Leighton
England will step into the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying play-offs with confidence high after ending their group campaign with a convincing 4-0 win against Austria.
Head Coach Hope Powell was delighted with what was her team’s best performance of an eight-match schedule which brought seven wins and a draw to finish top of Group 5.
“We dominated throughout, created lots of chances and scored some well-worked goals,” said Powell, after a game played in searing heat in Krems and won by two goals from striker Kelly Smith and one apiece for right back Alex Scott and substitute Ellen White.
“It was a good, disciplined performance and it was great to finish a long group campaign on such a good note,” she added. “We’ve not been at our best during the group but we’ve worked really hard at going back to basics and doing what we do best, which is getting the ball on the floor and moving it quickly.
“That’s what we did in this match and the most pleasing thing was that the girls stuck to the game plan in a match we were rightly expected to win but the sort of game where sometimes they get a bit over-exuberant and don’t perform to the level they can. They got everything right this time though, and everybody played their part."
Powell was particularly pleased with the contribution of the three young substitutes, central defender Sophie Bradley, who was making her debut, midfielder Steph Houghton and striker White, the latter scoring her fourth goal in only six senior international appearances.
The National Coach said: “Sophie’s been excellent in training whenever she’s been with the squad and did very well in a thoroughly deserved debut. Steph’s distribution, particularly under pressure, was first class and I’m really pleased for her after coming back from injuries that caused her to miss two major tournaments. Ellen showed again that she’s a natural goalscorer. She’s still learning her trade but she can only get better.”
Powell is now looking ahead to September’s play-offs, the opponents for which she will discover when the draw is made on 30 August.
“We’ve done really well to finish top of our group,” she said, “but that’s only the first hurdle we’ve got over. Whoever we meet in the play-offs will be tough, but we’ve done pretty well against the top European teams in recent years and after finishing the group games on a high we should be confident going forward.”