Women's World Cup - Powell: Hard work starts here

Sat, 28 May 02:30:00 2011

England's recent form has proved they can mix it with the best at the upcoming Women's World Cup, but coach Hope Powell says the hard work starts now.

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England - ranked 10th in the world - completed their preparations for next month's showcase with a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Sweden - a team ranked five places above them by FIFA.

It was also England's first win over the Swedes since 1984 - when Powell herself was playing in midfield - and it came off the back of a 2-1 win over world number one USA at the beginning of April.

Those victories have given England a spring in their step heading into the tournament in Germany, but Powell remains aware her friendly results mean nothing if such good form cannot be replicated when it really counts.

"We’ve been speaking about the expectation levels certainly because of recent performances and results and how we have progressed over the years," Powell said.

"The expectancy is very high. I have been speaking about that to the players; the expectancy now is to win. It won’t always happen but the expectation from the public now is to always win.

"You want to go into a major tournament on a high, full of confidence, knowing you are capable of beating leading nations in the game, and USA and Sweden certainly are that.

"The most important thing is that you have to get results when the game matters, when points are at stake. When it’s not a friendly.

"At a World Cup you have to perform and you have to win. We have to get out of the group and it will be tough. But the last two games definitely give us some confidence."

England are favourites to progress along with Japan from a Group B which also contains Mexico and New Zealand - and such has been their recent form, their run is not expected to end there.

"I think it’s sometimes easier to go into a tournament as an underdog, when the expectation isn’t on you. It’s a bit easier for players to manage," Powell said.

"Certainly that happened in (the 2009 European Championship in) Finland. We felt that we were in a good place, but now the expectation, cameras and focus will be on us.

"It’s a different challenge, a different experience. When I first got the job I remember playing Sweden and getting beaten 5-0. We have just made steady progress.

"It used to be that England were not such a difficult proposition. Now opponents will prepare themselves for coming up against us 100 per cent because we are a team that everyone wants to beat and that is a compliment, but it’s also a pressure."

Powell's final World Cup squad will be announced on June10 with the tournament starting on June 26. England kick off their campaign a day later against Mexico.


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