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Women's Football News
The draw for the 2013 European Championship qualifying groups has been made and our group is going to be an interesting one.
When I saw the draw, which put us in the same group as France, Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Israel, it appeared to be a bad one but there are two ways of looking at it.
I wanted a good draw and this one is tough, but that can only be good for us and I think we have a chance of second place. France are a very good side and so are Scotland but we believe, after playing them recently, we can get a result against them. I know that Scotland had their best players missing but we proved to ourselves that we can score goals past them. Ireland are arguably the best third ranked team in the draw but I don't think that other teams would have wanted us in their group as their fourth ranked side.
We can approach the qualifiers with confidence after competing well in the Algarve Cup. Admittedly, we didn't start very well when losing 3-1 to Portugal in our opening match. The first game in a tournament is always difficult but there are no excuses, we were poor throughout and disappointed with our performance. We let in two early goals but got one back before the break, then the third goal killed us off. We defended poorly throughout the team but then we improved dramatically, so perhaps the result was a blessing in disguise and a wake up call.
In contrast, in our second game against Romania, we were on top from the first minute. We started really well but couldn't convert our domination into goals and went one behind, due to sloppy defending again. However we knew as soon as we got the first goal, we could go on to win it, and turned the game around to win 2-1. It was a really good game for us as we controlled it from the start, it was a good performance.
Our final game was against Chile and it was good for us to play against a different type of team. Chile were good at keeping the ball and comfortable in possession, but we still went 100% at them and dominated the first half. I managed to score what was a good team goal but really we should have had two or three by half time. We finally got the second, from a great pass by Katie Daley to myself so I could score, but we didn't deal with the next fifteen minutes, they pulled a goal back and it was an uneasy last ten minutes. The team was getting very tired but we didn't want to lose and showed great character, showing that we are starting to mature as a team.
The Chile win meant that we topped our group, thus acheiving our aim at the start. This earned us a prestigious match against China and it was fantastic to play one of the biggest teams in women's football. We went out, disciplined in what we did, but fell behind to an early goal - something we need to work on and eradicate. After falling two behind, Helen Lander got us back into the game and unfortunately Emma Jones missed a late penalty for us. I don't blame 'Vinnie' as she wanted to take it and these things happen, but we could have taken them to penalties and then anything could have happened.
The good thing is that we are going in the right direction but we must make sure that we get the balance right in matches. The Euro qualifiers are going to be difficult but at least we have avoided the likes of Germany and Norway and we know we can beat the other teams if we play well.
Are we ready? Are we good enough? With our personal preparation and organisation these days, I think the answer is yes. I honestly believe we can do it - we will have the right preparation under Jarmo, who has been brilliant and it is no coincidence that we did well at the Algarve Cup with him in charge.
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