Podium expectation as women's footballers prepare to start Team GB's Tokyo mission

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TOKYO 2020 - 'THE TALENT IN THE SQUAD IS FANTASTIC' - JILL SCOTT ON TEAM GB'S SQUAD FOR TOKYO
TOKYO 2020 - 'THE TALENT IN THE SQUAD IS FANTASTIC' - JILL SCOTT ON TEAM GB'S SQUAD FOR TOKYO

From Paul Eddison in Tokyo

Great Britain’s women’s football has never won an Olympic medal but anything less in Tokyo would surely be regarded as a disappointment.

With England having reached the semi-finals at each of the last two World Cups, as well as the last European Championships, the team certainly has the pedigree, while two of the world’s top three sides, defending champions Germany and France, did not qualify.

An opening game against Chile, ranked 37 in the world, looks on paper to be a nice way to ease into the competition, however the South American side can call on skipper Christiane Endler, a truly world class goalkeeper who will join women’s powerhouse Lyon this summer.

Endler announced herself on the world stage at the 2019 World Cup, named player of the match in a 3-0 defeat to the USA, a string of stunning saves frustrating the eventual winners.

And as Chile make their debut in women’s football at the Games, Endler and her team have big ambitions, even against a side as good as GB.

She said: “The team from Great Britain is definitely a very strong team and very competitive. They are in good physical condition, we know they have reached the final stages of major tournaments so we know it will be a difficult game. But we have analysed and seen their games so we hope we have all the strategies we need to be able to play a good game against them.

“Of course, we expect a good result, we expect to go into the second round. We know it’s hard but we also have good players.”

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As good as Endler is, and Chile’s most capped player is exceptional, a Team GB side led by Steph Houghton should expect to get off to a winning start.

And with hosts Japan lying in wait in the second match in Sapporo, Houghton believes the team are primed to hit the ground running.

She added: “We’ve been training really hard over the last couple of weeks. We’re excited to get here and preparation has been spot on in the sense that we are a new team, we’ve come together, we’ve worked hard on the training pitch and away from the pitch.

“I think everybody is just so excited for the first game to come. It’s been a long time coming with the postponement last year but ultimately the team is together and we’re ready to go and win.”

One of the biggest challenges for GB will be dealing with the weather conditions, even in the relatively cooler climes of Sapporo in the north, but Houghton insists they will cope.

"Whether it’s in Tokyo or Sapporo, it’s very hot. In Yokohama it was more humid than it is here," added Houghton, whose exploits in Tokyo will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“We’ve done a lot of acclimatisation before this point and the girls have worked so hard to be in the best condition. I feel as though we have adapted quite quick and we’ve got used to the weather, losing a lot of fluid so you get more dehydrated. But we have everything in place for that so we can play the game we want to play.”

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.

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