Saturday, 30 June 2012

Hope Springs Eternal

HOPE POWELL didn’t surprise many with the Team GB Ladies football squad that she announced at Wembley stadium, on June 26.

The squad of 18 featured only two non-English players in Scottish internationals, Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke. While Scot Jane Ross, and Emma Higgins from Northern Ireland, are among the four reserves.

It will be the first time Great Britain have entered a Ladies football team since the sport was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and all involved believe they have a decent opportunity of winning gold.

The Londoner said: “It’s massive for all involved, I can’t really express it. I saw what the Olympics did for football [in previous years].

She continued: “We are excited about the prospect of what it could do for the game.”

Having managed her 150th game as England boss in the win against Slovenia, Powell has now turned her full attention to Team GB.

“I can now put England to bed and concentrate on Team GB, the focus is now all on Team GB and the girls all want to play.”

Arsenal star, Alex Scott backed this up: “When you go through the squad, we have to believe as a team [that we can win gold]. I know how excited I am to get into this team.”

She added: “It’s a real once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m determined to make the most of it.”

The squad mixes experience and youth, with nine of the 18 aged over 26 as Ladies football doesn’t have any rules regarding player’s age.

The team are in a group with New Zealand, Cameroon and current silver medallists Brazil so making it to the knock-out stages will not be easy.

Powell mused: “Brazil will be challenging, we know that. I hope it’s a good contest, but more importantly I hope we win.”

The Ladies meet up on the July 8, prior to playing a friendly against Sweden at Middlesborough’s Riverside stadium on July 20 as part of a double header where the men’s side play Brazil.

Then they kick off the Games on July 25, against New Zealand.

The squad in full:
Eniola Aluko; Birmingham City Ladies
Anita Assante; Gothenburg
Karen Bardsley; Linkoping
Sophie Bradley; Lincoln Ladies
Rachel Brown; Everton Ladies
Karen Carney; Birmingham City Ladies
Ifeoma Dieke; Vittsjo GIK
Stephanie Houghton; Arsenal Ladies
Kim Little; Arsenal Ladies
Claire Rafferty; Chelsea Ladies
Alex Scott; Arsenal Ladies
Jill Scott; Everton Ladies
Kelly Smith; Arsenal Ladies
Casey Stoney; Lincoln Ladies
Fara Williams; Everton Ladies
Rachel Williams; Birmingham City Ladies
Ellen White; Arsenal Ladies
Rachel Yankey; Arsenal Ladies

Jess Clarke; Lincoln Ladies
Emma Higgins; KR Reykjavik
Jane Ross; Glasgow City
Dunia Susi; Chelsea Ladies

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