Hope calls for focus
by Glenn Lavery
Sunday, 12 September, 2010
Head Coach asks her side to not underestimate the Swiss.
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There may be 17 places between England and Switzerland in the official FIFA Women’s World Rankings but Hope Powell has warned her side to take nothing for granted ahead of Sunday’s play-off first leg.
The two nations lock horns for a place at next year’s World Cup and after reaching the Final of the European Championship last summer and getting to the last eight of the 2007 World Cup, England are many peoples’ favourites to defeat the Swiss over two legs. However, having watched her side draw 2-2 with the same opposition in the Cyprus Cup in March, Powell has warned her players against complacency.
“We're working on how to stifle their strengths and expose their weaknesses,” she said of Switzerland. “Hopefully we'll get the job done, but it won't be easy; we're certainly under no illusions.
“[We] have to appreciate that, even since March, the Swiss team have progressed and I think got better. They are young players that will run all day and this is their first opportunity to qualify [for a World Cup] so they've got absolutely nothing to lose.
“I've said it before, but the games you are expected to win are invariably the toughest.”
England reached the play-offs by winning seven and drawing one of their eight Group Five matches in qualification, leaving them just two games away from a fourth consecutive appearance at a major Finals – a sign of the improvement that has been made within the women’s international game in this country – and Powell believes this tournament exposure will continue to benefit the Three Lions in the future.
“We're no different to any other association. It's all about wanting the game to grow and develop. Tournament exposure and experience raises the profile of the game and helps to get more young girls into the game.”
The Head Coach knows Switzerland have the talent and ability to upset the odds and she has been pointing this out to her squad in training all week. She also knows, though, that she has ability in own side and has asked them to remain focused to get the desired result at the Greenhouse Meadow Stadium.
"Everybody knows about [Swiss forward Ramona] Bachmann," Powell said. "She's now in the States, doing really well; a young talent who everyone seems to be raving about, but we have got some talented players ourselves. “We're pretty confident we know the way that they play and we just have to do our job.
“We're not there yet,” she continued. "We'll just take it one game at a time and deal with what's in front of us. We'll know more before the second leg in terms of what is needed, but we can't think too far ahead. It's dangerous to think 'we're there' when we're actually not. We have to deal with Sunday’s game first.”