Peace Cup aims come to fruition
Thursday, 21 October, 2010
Different players looked at and different football styles experienced.
by Glenn Lavery
England’s 0-0 draw with New Zealand in The Peace Cup gave Hope Powell the chance to field five players who haven’t had many minutes in a Three Lions shirt this season, and the Head Coach says this opportunity was one of the key reasons she has taken her side to South Korea.
After recovering from long-term injuries, Karen Bardsley and Anita Asante were both handed their first England starts in eight and 15 games respectively, while Lindsay Johnson, Laura Bassett and Dunia Susi were also given time to build on their limited game-time in the World Cup qualifiers – though the game did end on a sour note for the latter as she suffered a knee injury and had to be substituted.
“Obviously, you want to win every game you play, but that wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of this trip,” she explained.
“The main thing was to look at the squad we’ve got to work with. We’ve still got a couple of players missing, there are a couple of U20s that are doing well at the moment and competition for places is fierce. We’ve had a long World Cup qualifying campaign where some players didn’t play a lot, so it was important to give them game-time, as we did against South Korea on Monday as well.
“Bass [Laura Bassett] and Anita hadn’t been in the frame for a while so it was good to see them again and Lindsay hasn’t started regularly lately either, so it was good to see her, too. I’ve now had an opportunity to look at a lot of players in a different environment and, overall, it has been a really useful trip so far.”
All three Group B games finished 0-0 and lots were drawn to decide who would compete in Saturday’s Final. The host nation, South Korea, were the lucky winners of the ballot and Powell is now hopeful of arranging another game against New Zealand in two days’ time.
Before today’s game Powell had predicted an energetic performance from the All Whites and she was proved correct.
“It was another really, really good challenge,” said the Head Coach.
“It was a tough game and I have to give credit to New Zealand, their work ethic was very good. We struggled in the first 15 minutes but as the game went on we settled into it. We created enough chances in the second half to have won the game and we just need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal. It was a really good contest and I was pleased with the application of the players, just a bit disappointed that we’re not in the Final.
“Another key aim of this trip was to play teams from the Far East and get used to their style of play,” continued Powell, who, pre-match, asked New Zealand to take part in extra-time and penalties should the two sides draw, in order to further their World Cup preparations. New Zealand refused.
“South Korea and New Zealand were completely different to each other, and different to us, in terms of style so it just helps us in terms of developing our players, and, you never know; with the World Cup draw looming [on 29 November] we might get New Zealand in our group so at least we’ve experienced how they play.
This Peace Cup campaign is England’s first real piece of preparation for the World Cup and although the Finals, which will be staged in Germany next June and July, are still over eight months away, Powell believes it is never too early to begin planning for such a big tournament.
“We are eight months away from the World Cup and the draw hasn’t even been made yet. Is it a bit early to be preparing for it? Absolutely not. From the day we qualified, we went straight into World Cup mode and it will come around very quickly.
“Obviously, the draw will determine a lot of our preparatory work and we’ll get all our group opponents looked at over the next eight months. And then it’s all about the players understanding what’s required of them and what’s required to be selected for the team.
“The Super League won’t kick-off until March next year so we can do a lot of really good work before that. And, although that means they won’t have the week-in-week-out match practice until then, that should mean that they go into the tournament fresh.
“When we get back from Korea we’ll have a bit of a recovery period; Christmas is coming up and then we’ll get ready to go again in January.”