Dutch manager Vera Pauw on tonight's Women's World Cup qualifier against England in Zwolle.
Holland v England
FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifier
17 November 2005
When England take on Holland in their 2007 Women’s World Cup qualifier at Zwolle on Thursday, Dutch coach Vera Pauw reckons it will be "a bit like David against Goliath."
Pauw’s opposite number Hope Powell will take that assessment with a pinch of salt having seen Holland produce a shock 1-0 win against clear group favourites France.
The Dutch side won by the same score against Austria to put them level on points with England, who to date have beaten Austria 4-1 and Hungary by a massive 13-0.
Those contrasting scorelines - added to France beating Austria and Hungary by only 3-1 and 2-0 respectively - make England favourites on Thursday says the Dutch coach.
"When we saw the 13-0 scoreline from Hungary we took a fright," admitted Pauw. "I thought ‘oops - what did Hope feed her players on during the week? Give me her secret!’
"We then expected a high win for France when they played Hungary, but it was only 2-0 and so we know it will be very difficult for us on Thursday.
"It will be a bit like David against Goliath, but anything is possible in football and we will do everything we can to get a result."
When the teams last met, in back to back friendlies in September last year, England won on both occasions though far from convincingly.
Pauw, formerly Scotland’s coach, took over the Dutch team a month after those two games and has undoubtedly inspired an all-round improvement.
She insists, however, that her team - ranked four places below England at 18 in FIFA’s world listings - does still not match up her old playing foe Powell’s side.
"England have improved a lot in the last 12 months," she said. "They are stronger, the system works better and they are more professional - the players are on another level.
"I thought they were very unlucky not to reach the semi-finals at Euro 2005. It was a shame for the tournament as well as for England that they did not go through.
"We have definitely improved ourselves in the last 12 months, but have we improved enough? We shall find out on Thursday!"