White: I really enjoy being part of Team GB
Ellen White has scored three goals for Great Britain at Tokyo 2020
She discusses her form and Team GB's clean sheets
Coach Hege Riise hails White
The Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 is proving to be a fruitful one for goalscorers. Barbra Banda and Vivianne Miedema currently top the scoring charts with six goals apiece, followed by Wang Shuang on four goals and Sam Kerr, Stina Blackstenius and Marta with three each. Great Britain have another in-form scorer in Ellen White. Unusually, her brace in Team GB’s 2-0 win over Chile and another strike in their 1-0 victory against Japan means she has netted all of her side’s goals. While the goals have been coming thick and fast in Groups G (19 so far) and F (an incredible 32), the teams in Group E have only found the back of the net eight times in four matches. Great Britain are also the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal. “Even as a striker, we all take pride in clean sheets, I know the defenders and the goalkeeper definitely do,” White told FIFA.com after their win over Japan. “We work really hard on our defensive shape, not wanting to concede goals.”
And they have done this extremely well in their first two matches on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, with Ellie Roebuck’s goal rarely being threatened along the way. “It was about being patient," said White. "We were super patient in our forward play. The whole team worked tremendously hard to get another clean sheet.” It is no cliché to say that the first line of defence in today’s teams is their attackers. “We trust Ellen to score goals and she does,” said Great Britain coach Hege Riise. Ultimately, strikers are still judged by the number of goals scored – so it is always helpful to have a forward of White’s quality in your ranks. “We felt like in the second half [the goal] was coming”, said White. And it did, as she rose to meet Lucy Bronze’s perfectly-placed cross and head home a late winner. Riise remarked: “That’s the small margin you need when you play a team like Japan, the detail that an excellent player has. That moment is game-changing. She’s a top scorer, she’s always looking to score goals. White added: “I really enjoy being part of Team GB, being surrounded by amazing players and staff. I’m really enjoying my football and my team-mates give me great crosses into the box and I manage to be in the right place at the right time.”
Attention now turns to Tuesday’s clash with Canada in Kashima to decide who tops the group. While a draw would be enough for Great Britain given their excellent start to the tournament, it was the Canadians who eliminated Team GB from their last appearance at the Olympics at the quarter-final stage of London 2012. Could this be a bad omen? “We’re focusing on the here and now,” said White immediately after the last match. “We know that they’re a very good side. We’ll work on what we need to improve from this game and what we’ve done very well. It will be a really competitive and exciting game."