An opportunity to shine
Tuesday, 17 May, 2011
Hope Powell calls on her players to impress against Sweden.
Live on ESPN
Tickets are priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions and will be on sale from The Kassam Stadium before the game
The World Cup is just under six weeks away and tonight England play their final friendly fixture before flying to Germany for arguably the most eagerly anticipated tournament in the history of women’s football.
Sweden are the visitors to Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium and England’s National Coach Hope Powell is excited by the prospect of facing Thomas Dennerby’s talented charges.
“This is a good final home fixture going into a World Cup,” said Powell.
“The level of competition is exactly right; Sweden are a world class team. They have got some quality players that we can’t ignore and we’ll have to be on our game.
“The game will be competitive, it will be physical and it will be another good test for us. Our games against Sweden in recent years have been very close and that just shows how far we have progressed.”
This progress was most notably marked in last month’s victory over USA, two-time World Cup winners and the No.1 ranked side in women’s football. England outplayed the Americans for most of the first half, prompting Powell to hail it “the best 45 minutes of football I’ve experienced during my time as National Coach”. Jess Clarke set England on their way after just eight minutes and Rachel Yankey doubled the advantage midway through the half. Megan Rapinoe pulled a goal back just before the break, and USA grew into the game in the second half but England held on resolutely to record a famous win.
“Tonight’s game with Sweden will provide us with a good benchmark to see whether that USA game was a one-off or whether have got it within ourselves to keep reproducing those sorts of good performances against the top teams,” admitted Powell.
“With the World Cup so close the result isn’t the be-all and end-all. What is really important is that we continue to perform well both collectively and individually. I am obviously looking to finalise my 21-player squad for Germany. I have the crux of the squad in my head, but some of the peripheral players have been doing really well of late and are coming to the fore at just the right time. This game may give those borderline players an opportunity to shine.
“The most important thing, though, is that this game gives me the chance to get the team together to play a testing international match against a top side so I can have one last look at my squad. And it gives the players one last chance to impress.”
Powell will submit her final World Cup squad to FIFA on Friday 10 June.
England get their World Cup campaign underway against Mexico on Monday 27 June.
The squad in full. Click here for stats (or click on a player's name for their own individual profile):
Karen Bardsley (Sky Blue), Siobhan Chamberlain (Bristol Academy), Carly Telford (Chelsea)
Sophie Bradley (Lincoln Ladies), Lindsay Johnson (Everton), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Alex Scott (Boston Breakers), Casey Stoney (Lincoln Ladies), Dunia Susi (Birmingham City), Rachel Unitt (Everton), Fern Whelan* (Everton)
Anita Asante (Sky Blue), Laura Bassett (Birmingham City), Dani Buet (Chelsea), Steph Houghton (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Everton)
Eniola Aluko (Sky Blue), Karen Carney (Birmingham City), Jess Clarke (Lincoln Ladies), Natasha Dowie (Everton), Kelly Smith (Boston Breakers), Sue Smith (Lincoln Ladies), Ellen White (Arsenal), Rachel Williams (Birmingham City), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal)
*Whelan replaced Fara Williams (Everton)