Fidler pleased with Euro progress
Monday, 17 October, 2011
Head Coach congratulates players after they top First Qualifying Round group.
Lois Fidler was full of praise for her young England side after they defeated Finland 4-2 to book their place in the Second Qualifying Round of the UEFA European Women’s U17 Championship.
Three goals in the opening eleven minutes - from Rosella Ayane, Katie Zelem and Abbey-Leigh Stringer respectively - set the tone, and although the Scandinavians scored twice themselves, a fourth goal, from Hollie Kelsh, secured three valuable points which saw the England top their First Qualifying Round group with a 100 per cent record as they had registered victories over Israel and Northern Ireland earlier in the week.
“We got off to the best possible start,” said Fidler of her side’s eleven-minute blitz.
“We had a game plan that we only had one day to prepare the girls for and they stuck to it to the letter. We stopped Finland from playing and caused them problems every time we went forward which was why we were 3-0 up so early, and to be honest, it could have been more.
“Although we were on top, there were times when we looked like we were letting Finland back into the game and I told them at half-time that we had to keep our heads and see the game out. They are a fairly inexperienced group at this level and they had done so well up to that point. And credit to the players, they stuck to task and saw it through.
“There were some great individual performances, but what I’m most pleased about is the fact it was a great team performance.”
Eleven of Fidler’s 18-strong squad were experiencing a European qualifier for the first time and the Head Coach was delighted with the blend of players she now has at her disposal.
“We’ve got quick players and players that will cause teams problems when we go forward,” she said. “We’ve got players who can keep the ball, players that can get in behind and players that can finish, which is great. We are not shy going forward, it’s just about sticking to what works and recognising when the game changes, but that’s part and parcel of international football and it will come.
“For such an inexperienced group we have given them a lot of information to take on board and we are really pleased with how they have responded.”
Overall, Fidler said she was delighted with the way her charges handled themselves in what she believes was England’s toughest-ever First Qualifying Round group.
“Without question, this was the most difficult challenge we have faced at this stage of the competition,” she said. “It is the toughest First Round group I’ve ever experienced. Finland and Northern Ireland are both decent teams and the Israelis bring an altogether different challenge, so to get three wins and to produce the quality football we did I can’t be anything other than pleased with the girls.
“However, it is also my job to prepare them for the next phase of qualifying. And if they found the last three games tough, then the Second [Qualifying] Round is going to be even tougher. We need to make sure that our preparation between now and next April is spot on.
“But, credit to the girls for this week. They gave everything they had and got the reward they deserved. This is a strong group of players and hopefully we can continue to improve.”