Lois Fidler says that belief was the key as England overcame Japan to make the Semi-Finals.
FIFA Women's U17 World Cup
12 midnight (GMT), Saturday 8 November 2008
Hamilton, New Zealand
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Lois Fidler says that belief has been the key word for England as they made it through to the Semi-Finals of the World Cup in New Zealand.
Despite coming up against Japan who had the only 100% record in the competition, Fidler's side showed no deference to their opponents and their incredible show of character and resilience got them into the last four.
"The kids are absolutely elated," Fidler told TheFA.com. "They worked so hard with 90 minutes of normal time, extra-time and penalties as well - it takes a lot out of you.
"I thought we could do it, I think to most other people it may be unexpected but those that saw the game have said we deserved it. We stuck in there and got the victory so we are delighted.
"Belief is a crucial word. We have spent a lot of time working with these players and they have worked hard together as well to build the moral and the unity of the squad. The idea that if everyone sticks together then anything is possible has really been demonstrated today."
Fidler paid tribute to the losers in an enthralling encounter, but explained that the attitude of no fear was crucial to the players achieving their goal.
"The Japanese are a fantastic side, they play very direct attacking football with lots of flair and individual ability. But we went into the game with a mindset that we would show no fear and not be in awe of the other team at all.
"We had proven in our three previous games that we could defend well and attack well, but we just needed that bit more consistency to take us to the next level. We also talked about taking care of the ball a little better and I think we did that."
England started the competition with two incredible victories over Brazil and Nigeria, but fell to South Korea in the final match of Group D. Fidler believes the lessons learned in that match were another reason that her players were able to raise their game and match Japan.
"We said after the final group game that we weren't good enough, and we learned a lot from that performance. It would have been a greater concern if we'd given everything and been outclassed by a superior opposition - that wasn't the case.
"The girls are very honest and on reflection they knew that they hadn't played particularly well, and if you can't learn from defeats you will struggle - but the girls have really pushed on since that game.
"Yes Japan found gaps in our defence, but we never gave up the ghost and we kept on believing we could make it. The girls stuck to their task diligently and showed great attitude against a strong team.
"I'm made up for Isobel Christiansen who gave her best performance of the tournament and that goal was the icing on the cake for her - 40 yards out it was unbelievable."
Fidler also revealed that England were quietly confident going into the penalty shootout.
"It was quite a strange situation because we were confident. Being 2-1 down with five minutes to go I was asking myself what else can we do? We needed to get a goal back so I put Gemma Bonner who is a centre back higher up the pitch, and from that Isobel Christiansen got the goal.
"From that we wanted to see through extra-time, which we did, and getting to penalties we were all quite confident. We knew that we had a better goalkeeper and the fairytale ending came true because Lauren Davey stood her ground and saved the second penalty to see us through.
"We had been practising penalties in every training session for the entire time we have been out here.
"It's very much about believing in the gameplan and the strategy, we canceled out a number of their attacking threats today and forced them to go long which was a battle we were going to win.
"We'll prepare the players in the same way that we have for the previous four games for the next two, because we are guaranteed six now."
16 Sakiko IKEDA, 2 Kozue CHIBA, 4 Nagisa OKUDA, 5 Natsuki KISHIKAWA (c), 6 Natsumi KAMEOKA, 7 Chiaki SHIMADA (20 Yoko TANAKA 73'), 8 Yuko TAKEYAMA 9 Chinatsu KIRA, 10 Mana IWABUCHI, 11 Akane SAITO, 12 Yuiko INOUE (14 Kei YOSHIOKA 80' (13 Takako SUGIYAMA 112')
Substitutes Not Used
1 Saki NAKAMURA, 21 Ayaka SAITOH, 15 Saori TAKAHASHI, 17 Minami ISHIDA, 18 Marika OHSHIMA, 19 Haruka HAMADA
1 Lauren DAVEY, 2 Rachel DALY (14 Stephanie MARSH 58'), 3 Naomi CHADWICK, 6 Gemma BONNER, 7 Rebecca JANE (19 Paige ELI 106'), 8 Jordan NOBBS (c), 9 Danielle CARTER, 11 Lucy STANIFORTH (18 Rachel PITMAN 106'), 12 Lucy BRONZE, 16 Lauren BRUTON
Substitutes Not Used
13 Amy CARR, 21 Juliana DRAYCOTT, 15 Jemma ROSE, 17 Sarah WILTSHIRE, 20 Kirsty LINNETT