Hope Powell believes that Iceland will provide a firm test in preparation for the France showdown.
England v Iceland
7.45pm, Thursday 09 March 2006
Norwich City FC
England Head Coach Hope Powell is looking forward to a serious test from Iceland tonight, after some impressive results in recent months England face a side filled with confidence.
Iceland drew 2-2 with Sweden in their qualifying campaign for the FIFA Women's World Cup finals in China, and like England are hoping to prepare for further qualifiers this month and later this year with a solid performance at Carrow Road.
But Hope believes England are in good shape to cause them problems, she said: "We are still on a learning curve but in our build-up to last year’s UEFA Women’s European Championship finals, then during the finals themselves and in our matches since, we have shown a continuing improvement and had some excellent results.
"Like us, Iceland are involved in the qualifying stages for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in China and they have so far produced some impressive results, most notably their 2-2 away draw with Sweden.
"On the strength of that result and their past performances against us, they will be a real test for us ahead of our next qualifying group match, against France at Blackburn’s Ewood Park on Sunday, 26 March."
Hope has both coaching and playing experience against Iceland and feels that they have always produced good sides.
Hope told TheFA.com: "I’ve come up against Iceland on several occasions and the games are invariably tough, fast flowing and physical contests that are rarely decided by more than the odd goal.
"We squeezed past them 3-2 on aggregate to reach the 2003 World Cup qualifying play-off final, where – ironically in the context of tonight’s game – we lost to France, then in our last friendly against them we won 1-0 at Peterborough.
"Since that Peterborough meeting almost two years ago both of our teams have been striving to improve, and in England’s case I feel we have progressed to the point where we can now compete with the world’s best teams."
The England Head Coach is also glad to be playing in this country again, after a succession of matches abroad.
She said: "After having to travel overseas for all five of our matches so far this season, it’s good to be back on home soil and making a return to Norwich City for this final friendly international before we return to World Cup qualification duty.
"It’s our third game at Carrow Road in the last six years and it’s always a pleasure to be here.
"Norwich City are a fine club and we’ve enjoyed good support here, the sort of support we’ll hopefully see again this evening as we take on a strong Iceland side."