A two-fold task
Thursday, 19 August, 2010
Beat Austria and prepare for play-offs, demands Powell.
by Tony Leighton
The England Women's Head Coach, Hope Powell, will send her team out with a dual aim when they play their final World Cup qualifying group game in Austria on Saturday.
Having already won Group 5, England have clinched a place in the play-offs that will decide which European nations progress to next year’s finals in Germany. So victory in Krems is not required in terms of topping the group – but it may be essential in clinching one of the top seedings for September’s play-offs.
Powell said: “We’ll have to be totally focused on Saturday because we have a two-fold task – beating Austria and preparing ourselves for the play-offs.
“We may not get one of the top seedings for the play-offs even with a win on Saturday, but without the three points we are almost certain to miss out. And in any case, a win against Austria, especially a win with a good performance, can set us up nicely for the play-offs which are only a few weeks away.”
With her dual task in mind Powell has selected a strong squad which features recalls for forward Kelly Smith and winger Karen Carney. The America-based pair were rested for last month’s 3-0 home win against Turkey as both of them were carrying slight knocks. But both are likely starters on Saturday as England look to complete a double over the Austrians and end their group programme in style.
Powell’s team won 3-0 when the teams met at Queens Park Rangers in March and will be expected to collect another victory to retain their unbeaten group record.
But the Head Coach warned: “The Austrians have learned and improved during the qualifying campaign so it will not be an easy match for us.
“We have to go in with the right attitude and approach, and if we do that then we can hopefully produce a performance and result to keep us on track for qualifying.
“It’s nice to have won the group with a game to spare, but it’s a difficult qualifying process – and there’s still lots of work to do to get to the World Cup."