Hope praises history makers
Great Britain 1-0 New Zealand
London 2012 Women's Football
4pm, Wednesday 25 July 2012
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Live on BBC1
After Wednesday’s 1-0 win over New Zealand, Team GB Head Coach Hope Powell reminded her players of the enormity of their achievement.
Steph Houghton’s 64th-minute free-kick ultimately won the contest, but of greater significance was her team’s landmark appearance at the Olympic Games. They are the first-ever women’s football team to represent Great Britain at the Olympics and Powell said that accomplishment would go down in history.
“The message to the girls was that they made history today,” said Powell. “That will never change now. We wanted them to enjoy the experience. We recognise that it was the first event [of London 2012] and I said to the girls that is was an opportunity to showcase [their] talent.”
The win was played out at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in searing heat and Powell said her players deserve credit for coping with the temperature. They could have gone ahead in the first-half as Anita Asante had a three good headed chances, the first of which struck the upright.
The hosts improved after the break and deservedly ran out winners, even though Karen Bardsley was called into action twice to deny the Kiwis an equaliser in the later stages.
“[It was a] tough contest,” was Powell’s assessment. “Conditions were very difficult for both sides. It was a battle [but] to get the first game out of the way with three points, we’re really pleased about that.
“I actually thought New Zealand started better than we did. It took us a bit of time to get to grips with the game.
“Although we had more of the chances it looked like it would be something like a set piece that was going to win the game.
“It’s a good start for us.”
Powell also reserved a word of praise for the match-winner. Houghton was unlucky with injuries earlier in her career and missed out on both the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Euros due to injuries picked up on the eve of both tournaments.
And her Head Coach was pleased that the Durham girl finally got her moment in the sun.
“I’m really pleased for her. She’s the first female footballer to score for Team GB.
“She has worked really hard to get herself back in condition and she is one of the fittest players in this squad.
“Steph is so pleased to be a part of [the Olympics], she wants to do well and scoring the winner was a great honour for her.”