VIDEO: Smith primed for Group B showdown
by Glenn Lavery in Augsburg
Tuesday, 05 July, 2011
Forward believes England are ready to face Japan.
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Kelly Smith says England are expecting a difficult encounter against Japan in their final World Cup group game, but believes they are ready for the challenge.
England need a point to qualify for the quarter finals while a victory would allow them to top the group. Defeat would leave the door open for Mexico, who need to beat New Zealand to have any prospect of progression.
Smith, though, does not want to concern herself with the different permutations and she believes England are fully prepared to face the fourth ranked side in women’s football.
“They’re going to be a really hard team to come up against,” Smith said of Japan. “They’ve done extremely well in the last couple of years. They’re a very tight, technical and composed team. It will definitely be a hard contest for us but one that we are ready for.
“I saw America play Japan out in the States and Japan were playing their tight little triangles around the US and it looked really good and tasty until the Americans put their physical aspect on the game and wound them down a little bit, and that was too much for the Japanese. We’ve got some quite aggressive players in our team so we’re going to look to [apply] pressure.”
England opened their World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw against Mexico and picked up their first win on Friday, coming from behind to defeat New Zealand 2-1. The players openly admit they haven’t been at their best yet and Smith, who scored twice against Japan in the 2007 World Cup, is calling on her team-mates to put on a show against Norio Sasaki's much lauded side.
“We’d love to put in a great performance to build confidence,” she said. “We’re due that performance. In the last couple of games we haven’t performed to our best, we’ve started a little bit slow, but we’re picking up momentum and hopefully we’ll [continue to] do that against Japan.”