Better late than never for Laudehr

Germany midfielder Simone Laudehr is slowly building a reputation as a scorer of decisive goals. In the 115th minute of Friday’s quarter-final against Sweden, she appeared as if from nowhere to hammer home an unstoppable shot to put her side 2-0 up, and into the final four of the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008. And it was the very same Duisburg player who, in the final of FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007, scored with just four minutes remaining to seal a 2-0 victory over Brazil.

“Maybe I just have the knack of scoring goals at crucial times in matches,” the 22-year-old told “I was delighted about the goal. It was teed-up nicely for me and I really wanted to put it into the back of the net. The goal was a confidence booster for the team and helped us to breathe more easily.”

While Germany’s opponents have tended to focus on the potential threat of Birgit Prinz, the star striker has so far been unable to get her name on the scoresheet at this year’s tournament. Fortunately for coach Silvia Neid, the likes of Laudehr are happy to chip in while Prinz finds her shooting boots. “I look to score in every game but it’s much harder on the international stage than it is in the Bundesliga, for instance,” said the gifted youngster.

The German women could also be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu when they play the Brazilians on Monday. The two sides' semi-final clash will be their third meeting in less than 12 months. “After two matches over the last year, we know all about each others' strengths and weaknesses,"said Laudehr. "We’ll be hoping to take advantage of their weaknesses, of course, whilst trying to avoid conceding our first goal of the tournament.”

That Germany have yet to concede a goal here in China is due in no small measure to the outstanding form of goalkeeper Nadine Angerer. Laudehr, however, believes some credit must go to the enviable team spirit prevailing in the camp: “We prepared very well going in to the tournament. Everybody’s working for the good of the team and helping everyone else out. Nobody feels isolated.”

Laudehr is hoping that such solidarity will be enough to see them through to the Olympic final which, as an additional bonus, offers the chance to move into the Olympic Village. “It would be a great feeling to arrive there knowing we’re in the final,” says Laudehr, who is taking part in her first Olympic Football Tournament.

“I’m really curious to see what it’s like in there,” said Laudehr, of a possible stay in the Olympic Village, “and I would love to bump into the US swimmer Michael Phelps.”

Part of the national squads that triumphed at the last edition of both the FIFA Women's World Cup and the UEFA Women's Championship, Laudehr is determined to help Germany add Olympic gold to that list with victory over Brazil in Monday's semi-final. And though the German squad motto may be "All for one and one for all," few would be surprised to see Simone Laudehr make the difference once more.