Hope remains upbeat
Tuesday, 08 March, 2011
National Coach happy with performance despite loss to Canada.
by Glenn Lavery in Cyprus
England v USA, Saturday 2 April at the Matchroom Stadium, home of Leyton Orient. Buy tickets online here
England Women’s National Coach Hope Powell wasn’t too disheartened by her team’s 2-0 defeat to Canada in the final group match of the Cyprus Cup.
The loss leaves England unable to reclaim the crown they won in 2009 but Powell remained upbeat.
“I was really pleased with our performance,” she admitted after the game.
“Carolina [Morace, the Canada Head Coach] came up to me afterwards and said ‘football is a cruel game’. They knew we were the better team in the first half. Although they got into a bit more, I actually thought we were the better team in the second half as well.
“It’s just that final bit, the finishing. We need to be more clinical in front of goal. The good thing is we are creating the chances and that is really important.”
England went into the game knowing a victory would book their place in the final and could have been two or three goals ahead before Canada captain Christine Sinclair gave her side the lead deep into added time at the end of the first half. Substitute Brittany Timko doubled the advantage early in the second and England were unable to claw themselves back into the contest.
“If Ellen [White] had scored that chance early on it would have been a different game,” Powell said on her side’s first-half dominance.
“You think ‘if only...’. It was an unfortunate time to concede the first goal. We went in at half-time and the only thing missing was a goal. We didn’t need to change anything. If anything, we just had to be more clinical in front of goal. They had two real chances and scored two goals. We had numerous chances and didn’t score. Therein lies the story of the game.”
Happy with the team performance, Powell also singled out a number of individuals for special praise, including Fara Williams and members of the younger brigade.
“Steph [Houghton] did well at left-back, as did Dunia [Susi] at right-back. That’s good to see because I had a word with both of them earlier in the week and told them to relax a bit more during games and try to enjoy it. I think they did that and they showed an element of maturity, which was good.
“I must mention Sophie Bradley, too. She was playing her first match in this tournament and did really well at centre-back with Faye [White] until her injury flared up again, so a lot more positives came out of the game than negatives.
“All of these young players have got bright futures and I was very happy with the way they handled the game. It’s nice to know they are pushing on and in doing that they are pushing the team on.
“And just looking at the more experienced players, in terms of taking control of the game, I thought it was one of Fara [Williams’] better performances. She tried to dominate midfield as much as she could and that’s good to see. I’ve said to her in the past that she should be recognised as one of the best midfielders in the world. She’s definitely got it within her.
“You’ve got to admire the fact that she always wants to get on the ball and wants to create things. She’s not shy. She’ll make a mistake but she’ll keep going and you’ve got to applaud that.”
England have one final game in Cyprus against South Korea on Wednesday. The two nations met in the Peace Cup in New Zealand before Christmas and Powell is relishing pitting her wits against an Asian team again, with Japan laying in wait in the Three Lions’ World Cup group.
“The experience of playing an Asian team will be very good for us,” she said.
“It was tough against them last year. Technically they are very good, so it will give us more practice of playing against a team with a similar style to Japan.”