Friday, June 15, 2012

England women set for must-win clash against the Netherlands

14 June 2012 Last updated at 20:22 GMT By Tony Leighton Women's football reporter England are set to play their must-win Women's Euro 2013 qualifier against the Netherlands in Salford on Sunday. Defeat for Hope Powell's team would ensure the Dutch clinched Group Six's only automatic passage into the finals in Sweden as group winners. "This is a really tough challenge for us and it's going to take a lot of concentration and diligence to get the result we want," said Powell. The crucial game will be shown live on BBC Two (17:15 BST). “The Dutch are a very good side that are more attack minded than they used to be and they've played with great confidence throughout their group games”

Hope Powell England coach

Even a draw would leave the Dutch as hot favourites to go through as they will be fully expected to win their final group match, against a Serbia team they have already beaten 6-0, to put themselves out of the reach of England. That would leave Powell's side - runners-up at Euro 2009 in Finland - having to go through a tricky play-off process to make the finals. Powell does not want to be forced down that route and so, having seen her team outplayed at times by the Netherlands in a goalless draw in the reverse group fixture, she is preparing assiduously for the City of Salford Stadium clash. She added: "The Dutch are a very good side that are more attack minded than they used to be and they've played with great confidence throughout their group games. "They've got the points advantage going into Sunday's game, so although they'll want to come at us they'll also try to stifle us when we get forward. "We'll be looking to hit them with quick breaks, trying to open them up and create goalscoring opportunities that we'll hopefully be sharp enough to take." Powell will be without her most creative player, Arsenal striker Kelly Smith, through a long-term injury while the coach has suffered another blow with first-choice goalkeeper Karen Bardsley dropping out of the squad due to a broken finger. Bardsley was outstanding against the Dutch in the group game at Zwolle and Powell said: "It's extremely unfortunate about Karen's injury. She's a big game player who's done really well for us and she'll be a miss. "But we've got three other goalkeepers in the squad and one of them, Rachel Brown, is hugely experienced at international level so we have good cover. "It's all about the players who go out on to the pitch and, if we're good enough on the day, we'll get the result we want and then hopefully go on to win our last two matches to win the group and take us to Sweden." ]]>

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