VIDEO: Hope aware of Japan's ability
by Glenn Lavery in Augsburg
Tuesday, 05 July, 2011
Last eight berth requires a result against technically gifted Japanese.
Click here to watch the full FATV interview
On Tuesday, England will take on Japan in their final group game needing a point to secure qualification to the quarter finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011, and National Coach Hope Powell believes the Three Lions will be coming up against one of the most technically gifted nations in the women’s game.
Ranked fourth in the world, Japan have earned plaudits from around the globe for their short passing game – New Zealand coach John Herdman went as far as to say they are ‘the Barcelona of women’s football’. They have already secured their place in the last eight courtesy of a 2-1 win over New Zealand on the opening day and a 4-0 rout of Mexico last Friday. A draw against England will be enough for them to top the group and Powell is expecting a tough encounter.
“We need to be alert,” she told FATV. “We know their style of play; they are a highly technical team. Every [Japanese] player can play and like[s] the ball at their feet. They will try and work their way through the [opposition’s] team, so we have to be absolutely prepared and try and stop them scoring goals, which will give us the best possible chance of getting out of the group.
“I think we have to play to our strengths,” she continued. “We can be a physical side and I think we’ll need to be against Japan. If they are going to try and move the ball very quickly we have to somehow slow them down. New Zealand did that very, very well, and [Japan] seemed to buckle a little bit under that sort of pressure. We like to mix the two up, so, yes we are going to have to be physically prepared for it, but we need to try and play football, work some opening s and try and score some goals.”
England and Japan last met at the 2007 World Cup in China when a late, late equaliser from the talented Aya Miyama forced a 2-2 draw and a similar result this time round would see England through. Powell says she always sends her team out looking for victory, though she is aware that her tactics cannot be too gung-ho – defeat would leave the door open for Mexico to grab second spot in the group, should they rack up a healthy win over New Zealand.
“I still think getting out of the group is more important than anything else,” maintained Powell. “It’s going to be a tough game. We have to hope that New Zealand do us a favour. Mexico beat New Zealand in The Cyprus Cup 5-0 so they know they are capable of scoring goals. I think New Zealand have done really well in this tournament so far, so I’m praying they’ll help us out. We are going to go for the win but we also need to be mindful that we don’t want to lose the game 3-0, 4-0, so we have to be really diligent. The priority is still to get out of the group.
“Winning games brings confidence. We just need to relax. We haven’t hit the ground running yet. It’s still very difficult for the girls to recognise now that they are perhaps a team to beat. Teams try that much harder against [us], so [we] always have to be on top of [our] game and that isn’t always possible, but I don’t think we’ve hit our best form yet and I’m hoping the longer we are in [the World Cup] that will come.”