England

After initially struggling to make an impact in tournament football, England Women’s team are developing into one of the major forces in the game. Runners-up in the 2009 UEFA European Championship and impressive in qualifying for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, coach Hope Powell has put together a squad with a healthy mix of experience and vigour.

With more players taking up the game full-time and having extra time to concentrate on training, as well as an improving domestic league, now could be the time for England to go a step further and bring home a major trophy.

The road to Germany
England were unbeaten in qualifying Group 5, dropping just two points and conceding only two goals in eight matches. First place in the group stage took them through to a play-off, where they faced Switzerland. Wins in each leg – 2-0 and 3-2 – gave England a 5-2 aggregate victory and sealed their place at the tournament.

The star players
Forward Kelly Smith has represented England for 15 years, amassing 42 goals and nearing a century of caps. A regular goal threat, Smith plays her club football in the USA and was voted third in the 2009 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. A box-to-box midfielder with an eye for goal, Fara Williams is another of England’s consistent goalscorers, notching seven in qualifying.

The coach
A former England international with 35 goals in 66 appearances, Hope Powell has become a figurehead in the women’s game. Her hands-on approach – she controls all levels of the national team from U-15 upwards - and vast experience have earned her the respect of the players, which has reaped rewards.

Previous FIFA World Cups

  • Of the five editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1991, England have only qualified twice, reaching the quarter-finals in 1995 and 2007.
  • In 1995 the team were strong in the group stage but soundly beaten 3-0 by eventual runners-up Germany in the quarter-finals.
  • In 2007 England started brightly but again exited the tournament at the first knockout hurdle, losing 3-0 to USA.
The stat
10 –
England are unbeaten in their last ten matches since losing 1-0 to Canada in February 2010 and currently sit ninth in the official FIFA Ranking, one place below their record high of eighth in September 2009.

What they said
“The women’s game in England has really developed over the last five or six years and we’ve now qualified for the last few major tournaments. We’re just delighted to be going to Germany for the biggest tournament in women’s football,” Kelly Smith, England forward.