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.
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.
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