By Glenn Lavery - Wednesday, 21 October, 2009
Hope Powell is currently readying the England Women’s team for their opening World Cup Qualifier, against Malta at Bloomfield Road on Sunday.
After making it to the Final of the European Championship in the summer, Powell is keen to build on the progress her side made in Finland and insists her team is raring to go.
“The first game back after a major tournament is always a difficult one, no matter how well you’ve done, because you have to mentally gear yourself up to go again,” Powell conceded.
“But the gap has been quite nice because it feels like we’ve had a bit of a break. The girls are looking forward to the game because it’s like starting over again. We have been able to bring a few younger players into the squad and hopefully they will relish the opportunity.”
As Powell alluded to, this Qualifier represents England’s first match on home soil since July and the Head Coach hopes her side’s success in Finland will encourage more fans to get behind The Three Lions en route to Germany 2011.
“After all the support we received when we were out in Finland, it would be nice to see a good crowd in Blackpool. We have never played at Bloomfield Road before so hopefully we can put in a good performance and make people want to come and support us in the future.
“The Euros were a fantastic and really enjoyable experience for all the players and the staff. We learned a lot from both the tournament and the Final itself and now it’s time to move on and our focus has shifted to qualifying for the World Cup.
“What we achieved in the Euros was brilliant but the World Cup is a bigger tournament, the biggest in football, and we experienced that in China in 2007. But, before any thoughts of the next World Cup can be entertained, we must make sure we qualify first.”
Malta lost their opening Qualifier 13-0 to Spain, but Powell admitted she will be taking nothing for granted and will prepare for this game as any other.
“We are expected to beat them, but that in itself provides us with a challenge because sometimes when you are expected to win it doesn’t always work in your favour,” she said.
“We’ve done our homework on Malta and we certainly won’t be taking them lightly. I’m sure they will make it difficult for us but we will be as professional as we always are and we’ll look to get a result. They are less experienced at playing at this level than we are and we have to make sure that we capitalise on our greater experience.”
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images