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England line up tough friendlies
 Women's Football News 5 Feb 2013
Hope Powell has lined up testing home internationals against two of the leading nations in the women's game, Canada and Japan, as she prepares her England side for Euro 2013. 
Canada have been regular opponents over the years at the annual Cyprus Cup and have beaten Powell's charges on the last two occasions, as well as defeating Team GB in the Olympic quarter finals.
London 2012 bronze medallists Canada will be entertained at Rotherham United's New York Stadium on Sunday 7 April (3pm KO).
World Cup holders and Olympic silver medallists Japan should provide a stern test of The Three Lions' credentials on Wednesday 26 June.
England, the newly crowned Club England Team of the Year for 2012, qualified unbeaten for the European Championship Finals and have been drawn in Group C alongside France, Spain and Russia.
Hope said of Japan: "They are a highly technical side. Everybody in the women's game likens them to Barcelona. It was really important in preparation for the Euros that we try and secure the best possible opposition. This is a really, really good opportunity to play one of the best teams in the world. It acts as a bit of a barometer, to see where we are and see what, perhaps, we need to do, or continue to do.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge. It will be a great fixture for us. Hopefully it will prove to be a really good game."
England were the only side to beat Japan at the 2011 World Cup, as goals from Ellen White and Rachel Yankey secured a deserved 2-0 win.
These two mouth-watering fixtures will form part of FA150 celebrations, helping to mark a special year for The Football Association. Not only is 2013 the 150th anniversary of The FA, it is also 20 years since The FA took over the running of women's game.
As such, it was decided the Japan game will kick off at 1.45pm, a time negotiated to both secure a game against the World Champions and to give as many school groups as possible the chance to see some of the best female players in action. FA150 celebrations recognise the whole game and schools' football is a key part of that, though tickets will be available for everyone.
England captain Casey Stoney said: "The Olympics message was to inspire a generation and we want to continue that legacy.
"The Euros will be shown live on the BBC and I'm thrilled that we are going to be playing against the World Champions in front of hoards of school children. This will let them experience international football at first hand and get them right behind us before the tournament starts."
Powell reiterated her skipper's words: "I am delighted we can attract the best teams in the world in our anniversary year and Japan and Canada will give us a different test.
"We need these games to prepare our players for a very important tournament, both in terms of performance and raising the profile of the women's game.
"The Olympics were a watershed for us and many women's sports. We need to ensure we build on that legacy and retain the fans."
England are next in action at the annual Cyprus Cup competition where they will face Italy (on 6 March), Scotland (8 March) and New Zealand (11 March).

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