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Topics - BillyBoy

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Women's Football / SheBelieves Cup
« on: February 21, 2018, 08:13:24 PM »
Please vote. Polling closes on the 28th Feb.

Germany are the 'best', so they have my vote.

Women's Football / Olympic Football 2012
« on: February 20, 2011, 09:14:33 PM »
Has anybody taken a peek at the ticket prices for the Olympic football? They're here if you're interested:

Cheapest tickets for adults seem to be £20, and £30 is the cheapest for the Women's final at Wembley. Plus about £5 per half a litre of beer last time I was there.  >:(

Old Trafford would be the most convenient for me, and it does have one of the semi-finals, but I'm not sure how well these tickets will sell. The BBC website doesn't even have a football page in the Olympic section, and it's probably got something to do with all the aggro that there has been around the GB Team. Although on this occasion GB really means England.

Off Topic / Wolves reach Challenge Cup final
« on: August 08, 2009, 08:25:55 PM »
 ;D ;D ;D

Wigan 26-39 Warrington

Wigan [8] 26
Tries: Bailey, Tomkins, Coley, Leuluai Goals: Richards 5

Warrington [28] 39
Tries: King 3, L Anderson, Briers, Cooper, Hicks Goals: Bridge 5 Drop: Briers

Warrington held off a second-half Wigan fightback to reach their first Challenge Cup final since 1990 after a thrilling victory.
The Wolves led 32-8 early in the second half, thanks to Matt King's hat-trick, after Lee Briers and Michael Monaghan had caused big problems for Wigan.
Sam Tomkins, Andy Coley and Thomas Leuluai all went over to give the Warriors hope. But Briers kicked a drop goal and Chris Hicks's late try sealed the win.
Both sides made a nervy start but it was Warrington who came closest to scoring, only for Ben Westwood's effort to be disallowed by the video referee for obstruction.
Wigan also had a Richards effort ruled out by the video referee moments later, but they were not to be denied when an inside pass by Tomkins found Phil Bailey who side-stepped into the gap to go over on seven minutes.

Then Warrington were penalised for offside and Pat Richards kicked over the resulting penalty to make it 8-0.
But it was one-way traffic thereafter as Warrington enjoyed the bulk of possession with Briers and Monaghan causing all sorts of problems for Wigan.
On 17 minutes, the Wolves got themselves back into the game with back-to-back sets and a short pass allowing King forced his way over for a first try - his 22nd try for the club.
And three minutes later they took the lead when Amos Roberts failed to collect a tricky Briers cross-field kick and Louis Anderson reacted quickest to get the ball down.

Wigan found it hard to get possession and their defence, which had been in superb form coming into the game, was under pressure while their cause was not helped when try-scorer Bailey was forced off with an Achilles injury.
It was no surprise when Briers turned scorer on 23 minutes when he found his way over for his side's third try and on the half-hour his pass on the overlap found Cooper and Chris Bridge added his fourth conversion.

Andy Coley pushed forward as Wigan tried to get back into the game but he was held up over the line.

King capped a perfect half for Warrington with his second try just before half-time when Michael Monaghan broke from dummy-half and sent a superb pass out to the Australian to leave the Wolves well in control.

Wigan needed to score first after the break but George Carmont was unable to take Cameron Phelps' pass, while at the other end Briers turned provider once more with another high cross-field kick and King timed his run and leap to perfection to touch down for his hat-trick.

Tomkins gave Wigan some hope when he went over on 54 minutes after Roberts kept the ball in play close to the touchline and flicked it back to the young scrum-half.
Warrington had their own injury concern when Chris Riley was knocked out and needed lengthy treatment for whiplash and concussion following an accidental collision with Joel Tomkins on 58 minutes.
The break helped to galvanise Wigan and a delightful offload by Paul Prescott sent Coley over on the hour mark as momentum started to swing their way and errors started to creep into the Warrington game.
Wigan threw everything at their opponents in the final 15 minutes and Leuluai showed his strength to squirm his way over after Palea'asina provided the drive forward.

But Briers eased any Warrington nerves with a 71st-minute drop goal and, as Wigan tired, Hicks took advantage to race through and seal a famous win for the Wolves.

Wigan: Phelps, Roberts, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards, S. Tomkins, Leuluai, Prescott, Riddell, Coley, Bailey, Hansen, O'Loughlin.
Replacements: Fielden, Paleaaesina, J. Tomkins, Flanagan.

Warrington: Mathers, Hicks, Bridge, King, Riley, Briers, Monaghan, Morley, Clarke, Carvell, L. Anderson, Harrison, Westwood.
Replacements: V. Anderson, Johnson, Cooper, Rauhihi.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)


BBC Photos:

European Women's Football / UEFA Women's European Championship 2009
« on: August 02, 2009, 10:03:54 PM »
To provide some assistance with your choice here are some odds from nordicbet.

Germany   2.20
Sweden   6.50
Norway   6.50
Denmark   8.00
England   10.00
France   15.00
Russia   15.00
Italy   50.00
Finland   50.00
Ukraine   50.00
Netherlands   100.00
Iceland   150.00

Scotland Women's Football / Women's Scottish Cup Final
« on: May 13, 2009, 06:16:01 PM »
I don't know if it's been mentioned before, but the cup final between Rangers Ladies v Glasgow City is being shown live on BBC Alba this Sunday. The channel broadcasts in Scottish Gaelic, but I believe they do English subtitles if you happen to be a non-speaker.  ;)

I know you can get the channel via satellite, and maybe by cable if anybody is interested.

Off Topic / World Cup victory for England
« on: March 22, 2009, 08:03:22 AM »
It's not football, but I thought the title was good, and I think the Welsh are included too. But that is too much of a mouthful and spoils the headline.  :D

I watched a bit of this early this morning, and like many women's sports there were hardly any spectators there.

Women's Football / Fifa 'to allow GB football team'
« on: December 16, 2008, 05:54:26 PM »
Fifa 'to allow GB football team'
Fifa is set to back plans for a Great Britain football team to play at the 2012 Olympics, despite opposition from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The issue will be discussed by Fifa in Tokyo and the sport's world governing body is expected to agree to a British team participating at the London Games.
However, it will not yet sanction its participation beyond 2012.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has already expressed his desire to have the hosts represented at the Games.
And it is thought he would be happy for all the players to be English if the other home nations refused to allow their players to take part.

The one Fifa figure who might have opposed the move, vice-president Jack Warner from Trinidad and Tobago, now looks unlikely to do so, and insisted: "I remain open on the matter."

The Football Associations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have openly expressed their concern that a Great Britain football team would threaten their ability to compete in future international tournaments as separate teams.
Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke has attempted to assure these bodies that this would not be the case but Uefa president Michel Platini has said he understands the nations' fears.

And an SFA spokesman responded to news of Fifa's likely impending approval of a Team GB by saying: "Our opposition to Team GB remains resolute.

"Our concern is that FIFA members and FIFA executives in the future would not have the same view as this one - and, subsequently, our status as an independent member would be threatened."
By 2012, it will be 52 years since a British football team has participated in the Olympics.


UEFA Champions League / Second placed teams in UEFA Cup
« on: October 18, 2008, 12:35:38 PM »
Excuse my Swedish translation if it's not so good.

Second placed teams in UEFA Cup

UEFA’s women’s committee took on Friday the decision of recommending that the Women’s Cup also includes a number of second placed teams.

Eight teams that come second in their respective countries’ highest league will also get permission to participate in the cup that starts in the autumn of 2009, said Susanne Erlandsson who is a member of the women’s committee.

Another decision we are putting forward to UEFA’s executive committee is that the final will only comprise of one match played at a neutral venue. The executive committee will make the final decision later this month. I see it as a sign of the strong development of women’s football at the elite level that we can get this new order.

Which of the eight leagues will get the chance to contribute another team will be decided by UEFA and will be based on previous successes in the cup amongst other things. It would therefore appear certain that Umeå IK will have earned an additional place for the Swedish league.

Fifty three teams participated in the current tournament and that would increase to sixty one next time.


I suspect the English league will also be included as they currently seem to be seeded for the later group stage. It will also add interest to the domestic league with second place offering qualification.

Off Topic / Leaving Beijing as the Games arrive
« on: July 27, 2008, 01:06:54 PM »
Leaving Beijing as the Games arrive

By Daniel Griffiths
BBC News, Beijing

In a makeshift camp of large green tents in downtown Beijing, migrant workers are preparing to leave the city they helped to build.
Their temporary home is on the edge of a new park they have been laying out.
But now the job is done and they have got to go.
"We've already bought our train tickets," Mr Chen said. "It's going to take about 19 hours, but we should be home for supper tomorrow evening."
In a couple of days, their tents will be taken down.
Mr Chen says there used to be 100 people in the camp, but now they are the last few left. Not everyone, though, wants to go.
"I don't want to go home," said Mr Wu, busy preparing lunch for his workmates at the new park. "I want to see the Olympics."
"Back home I won't be able to get a job, and if I don't work I won't make any money," he added.
Told to leave

The authorities are putting the finishing touches to the capital's multi-billion dollar facelift ahead of the Olympics.
Over the past few years, large areas of the city have been demolished and replaced by new roads, subways, skyscrapers and parks.

But now they have ordered building sites to shut and factories to close, in order to reduce air pollution in Beijing.
The migrant workers have been told to leave in an effort to smarten up the city, and millions are on the move.
At one of Beijing's main railway stations, there are hordes of people. They came to Beijing from across China in search of a better life, but now they have to leave just as the Games roll into town.
"We're going back in support of China's Olympics," Mr Wang said. "My boss told me to take a short holiday, so I'm off home but I'll be back once they're over."

Many of the other migrant workers tell the same story. Nothing is being allowed to tarnish Beijing's image, and they have got no choice but to leave.
"Because of the Olympics we're not allowed to work," said Mr Cui. "We can't stay so we've got to go home. I've only been here a month. When we first came here the boss said we wouldn't have to leave."
Transforming the city
But not all migrant workers are leaving, because there is still a lot of work to do before the Olympics begin, to make the city look perfect for the Games.

All round the capital, roadsides have been turned into instant gardens of blooming flowers and trees, tended by gardeners like Jia Cenghua.
"When we came this was just bare earth," Mr Jia said. "But we're making it beautiful for the Olympics, watering the plants and looking after the gardens."
The authorities want the world to see a shiny, modern capital for the Olympics.

That means no migrant workers - but the reality is that Beijing still needs them, especially now, just days before the Games begin.


Off Topic / Beijing's Olympic village opens
« on: July 27, 2008, 01:03:12 PM »
Beijing's Olympic village opens

The first athletes have checked into Beijing's newly-built Olympic village, with 12 days to go until the Games.
China's basketball star Yao Ming and hurdler Liu Xiang were present for a flag-raising ceremony at the heavily guarded site.
The opening came on a muggy morning and correspondents reported a haze of pollution over the village's complex of luxurious, high-rise apartments.
In all 16,000 competitors will stay there during the games.
The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in Beijing, says the flats - housing either four or eight people each - have been built to an unusually high environmental standard for China.
Solar energy will power some of the buildings, and unlike most of China, residents will be able to drink the water straight from the tap.
Specially extended beds have been installed for taller athletes.
Food safety is a concern in China, so everything served to the athletes will have undergone spot checks at mobile laboratories, our correspondent says.
Key to the village

Speaking at the opening ceremony, a vice-president of Beijing's organising committee, Chen Zhili, said: "We now welcome athletes from around the world to come to the Games."

Chen, the so-called mayor of the village, added: "We will try to satisfy the needs of people from different cultural and religious backgrounds."
She received a symbolic gold key to the village from organizing committee president Liu Qi, also the head of Beijing's Communist Party.
Chinese athletes were the first to check into the village.
The flats will be refitted and sold after the Olympics.
Reports say they will cost up to $1m (£500,000) - considered a high price even in Beijing's soaring property market.


England International Football / England & Setanta
« on: June 27, 2008, 05:23:19 PM »
Just out of interest. I was checking Setanta's website today, and for the first time I've spotted the coverage of the England women's games being mentioned. It's under the 'See the stars of the future section' near the bottom of this linked page:

So if they give the matches coverage, as it mentions, then that should be a good step forward. It will be interesting to see if they also add any potential future elite league to their line up.

So I suppose you will all be subscribing soon....  ;)

UEFA Champions League / UEFA Women's Cup Final 2008
« on: May 10, 2008, 10:53:50 PM »
Just a reminder...

Umeå IK v Frankfurt

First leg 17/05 & Second leg 24/05

and I think they are both televised on Eurosport. Not sure if you can watch it online on the Eurosport website, but only in Europe anyway I believe.

Women's Football / Football-mad schoolgirls kicking netball into touch
« on: January 19, 2008, 07:34:04 PM »
Football-mad schoolgirls kicking netball into touch


Traditional sports such as hockey and netball are under threat as rising numbers of girls turn to football.

They are taking up the sport at primary and secondary school and, for the first time, pursuing it at club level along with boys.

Experts point to the success of Bend It Like Beckham, the 2002 film starring Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra, for the sport's increasing popularity among girls.

It tells the story of an Asian girl's attempts to become a professional footballer despite her family's objections.

The Football Association - which estimates around one million girls and 250,000 women play football regularly - claims the sport is becoming more accessible to girls and is also seen as more acceptable.

The study by ChildWise, a market research company, interviewed 1,200 pupils - boys and girls - aged between five and 16 to track trends in their behaviour.

In a 2001-2 survey, girls were asked what sports they played at primary school.

Twenty-five per cent said football, 23 per cent netball, 22 per cent hockey and 18 per cent swimming.

At secondary level, netball was the most popular sport, being played by 52 per cent of girls.

Hockey was in second place (38 per cent) followed by basketball (35 per cent) and gym and athletics (33 per cent). Football was played by 28 per cent.

By 2007-8, 32 per cent of girls at primary level said they played football at school, easily beating all other sports.

Netball participation had slumped to 14 per cent and hockey had fallen to only 4 per cent.

At secondary-level, netball remained the most played (46 per cent) but football had become the second most popular sport (30 per cent), ahead of hockey and athletics.

Across all 591 primary and secondary schools, 30 per cent of girls play football, with participation peaking among nine and ten-year-olds.

FA spokesman Alex Stone said: "There are more opportunities for girls to play than some of the England players experienced when they were growing up.

"It's grown from being seen as a niche sport played by a few to something that's much more popularist."

Rosemary Duff, of ChildWise, added: "Children know the names of footballers as it's very high profile. But can you name a famous netball player? Even hockey isn't the same.

"These sports don't have the same kind of glamour that football has."


European Women's Football / starts in English!
« on: January 10, 2008, 09:50:47 PM »
I don't know if anybody checks the site at the moment. I do because Swedish is similar to Norwegian, although different enough to be confusing  ;)  ::), but the "very nice people there"  :) are now doing a small English section. So if anybody wants to check it out... starts in English!

From now on will present some of our daily news in English for our many readers outside Sweden.

As women´s football/soccer has a strong position in our country there is also a big interest about what is going on here.

We are also interested in news of the field in other parts of the world and you are most welcome to mail us ( some hints. We update the site several times every day.


European Women's Football / Sweden clear for Olympics
« on: November 28, 2007, 08:20:29 PM »
Easy to overlook in an exciting night of European Champions League Football.  :)

Sweden have won the second leg of their Olympic play-off against Denmark.


Sweden 3 Denmark 1

Swedish scorers.

Victoria Svensson (2) and Lotta Schelin.

Support and Suggestions / Unable to smile
« on: November 25, 2007, 07:29:29 PM »
I seem to have lost the ability to insert the yellow smileys and quotes. :( <--- Although if I insert them as text (colon and bracket) they still show up. haha.

This only seems to have happened since about 6pm today. Have you any idea why this might be David.

Pia Sundhage Named Head Coach of the U.S. Women's National Team     
Long-Time Club and International Coach, and One of World's Legendary Players, Becomes Sixth Head Coach in U.S. History; Former Swedish International and WUSA Head Coach Will Lead USA into Olympic Qualifying

CHICAGO (November 13, 2007) – Pia Sundhage has been named the new head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, it was announced today by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. Sundhage, 47, brings an extensive and impressive resume to the position as both a player and coach, most recently as an assistant for the Chinese National Team during the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Sundhage has been hired to coach the U.S. team through 2008 and the Beijing Olympics, and will begin work immediately on preparation for Olympic qualifying. While final CONCACAF qualifying dates have not yet been announced, it is anticipated the tournament will take place early next year.

Sundhage (pronounced Soond-hahg-Eh) coached in the WUSA during all three years of its existence, serving as the top assistant for the Philadelphia Charge during the 2001and 2002 seasons before taking over as head coach of the Boston Breakers in 2003. She led the Breakers, a team that had not made the playoffs in its first two seasons, to the regular season championship and its first playoff berth.

“Pia is a highly accomplished player and coach with the vision to guide our Women’s National Team into this next phase,” said Gulati. “She brings a fresh perspective and a tremendous amount of experience to the job. She knows the international game and has a great track record of not only winning, but getting the most out of players and teams. We feel that she is a great fit for this team moving forward.”

One of the most respected coaches in the women’s game and widely regarded as one of the world’s all-time greatest female players during her international career that spanned 22 years, Sundhage becomes the sixth head coach in the history of a program that has compiled a record of 303-51-44 since its inception in 1985. She is the first foreign coach to take the helm of the U.S. team and second woman. This will not be her first assignment for U.S. Soccer. Sundhage served as a scout for the USA during the 2004 Olympics.

“Of course, I am very excited and happy that I have this opportunity,” said Sundhage. “I see myself as being a part of a group that wants to be challenged. In order to be successful, I do think it is important that the coaching staff and the players know that we create our own environment. We are the environment that brings out the best performances in each other. In coaching, it’s about communication, so feedback is important and that is something that will help improve our team as we develop the way we will play.”

Sundhage started her coaching career while still playing, serving as player-coach for the Hammarby club from 1992-1994. She also coached Sweden’s Youth National Teams for 11 years from 1990-2001, coaching the U-16s, the U-19s and U-21s. After her retirement from the international game in 1996, she became head coach of the Sweden Under-19 Women’s National Team, leading the team to one gold medal and two bronze medals at the European Championships. She has also served as a scout for Sweden during the 1997 European Championships, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. Sundhage has also worked for FIFA on its Technical Study Group staff for the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Thailand.

“When I started playing, I played with boys, and I wasn’t supposed to play because I was a girl,” said Sundhage. “Women’s soccer has evolved to the point where I played in the 1996 Olympics and 12 years later, I get this huge opportunity. It is a unique moment in many aspects, including U.S. Soccer hiring a foreigner. It takes brave people to make a change. If you want to make changes you have to be brave and like the situation, which I certainly do, moving to the USA to take on this responsibility and challenge while getting the chance to coach some of the best players in the world. I like that feeling.”

Sundhage played for a number of clubs in Sweden as her role on the field evolved over the years, although she played mostly as a forward, before moving to midfielder and then to sweeper. She started her club soccer career at age 11 with the women’s club Ulricehamn, as there were no girls teams at that time, playing with women as old as 30.

She then played with Falkoping KIK before moving to Jitex BK of Gothenburg where she played during three different stints in the 1980s. She won the Swedish Cup four times, twice with Jitex BK and twice with Hammarby, and the won the league title four times with Jitex BK. While playing with Osters in 1982 and 1983, she led the league in scoring with 30 and 35 goals, respectively. She had a brief stint with Lazio in Italy in 1985, helping the club to a second place finish in the league as she scored 17 goals. She played at Hammarby in 1986, then back to Jitex from 1987-89, but moved to Stockholm when she got the job with the Sweden Federation, and played at Hammarby from 1990-96.

After the WUSA ceased operations, Sundhage coached for one year in Norway at Kolbotn, one of that country’s top clubs, before returning to her native Sweden where she coached KIF Orebro in Sweden’s top division for two and half years. For several months in the spring 2005, U.S. veterans Kristine Lilly and Kate Markgraf, who played for her on the Breakers, played for her at Orebro.

A legendary player in Sweden, she played for her country in the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups, and 1996 Olympics. She scored four goals for Sweden at the 1991 Women’s World Cup, helping the Swedes to a third-place finish. She scored one goal in the 1995 Women’s World Cup (against Germany) and played every minute of all three matches at the Atlanta Olympics.

She captained the national team for many years, playing 146 international games while scoring 71 goals, for years a record until recently matched by Sweden’s star forward Hanna Ljungberg. She debuted for Sweden at age 15 in 1975 against Finland and ended her 22-year international career at the 1996 Olympics in a win over Denmark. Sundhage led Sweden to the first European Women’s Championship in 1984, scoring the winning penalty kick against England to give her country to its only European title. She also helped Sweden to two silver medal finishes and one bronze at the European Women’s Championships.

During her international career, Sundhage played against the United States numerous times, including matches at the 1991 Women’s World Cup and in the 1996 Olympics. In 2000, she finished sixth in the voting for FIFA Women’s Player of the Century.

An accomplished guitar player and talented singer, Sundhage’s fame in Sweden reached new levels in the mid-1980s when her image was put on a postage stamp. A true women’s soccer pioneer who finished her schooling in the 1970s when European women’s soccer was still in its infancy, she held a variety of jobs, including working at a car wash and as a secretary before embarking on her prolific career in soccer. She holds the highest level of coaching license in Sweden.

Sundhage’s first games as head coach will come in January at the Four Nations Tournament in China, ironically the country she recently left after helping the 2007 Women’s World Cup hosts to the quarterfinals. With the Chinese National Team, Sundhage worked with then-head coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors, who was also Sweden’s head coach for years, including the entire time Sundhage coached the Sweden Youth National Teams. Dates and venues for the Four Nations have yet to be confirmed.

Sundhage is actually the fourth foreign-born coach in U.S. Women's National Team history, after the team's first coach Mike Ryan (who was born in Ireland but relocated to the United States in 1958 at age 23), Anson Dorrance (born in India) and Greg Ryan (born in Germany).

The U.S. Women’s National Team has won four world championships – two Women’s World Cup and two Olympics -- and finished in the top three in all eight women’s world championships staged by FIFA since the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, the only team in the world to medal in every tournament. 


European Women's Football / Olympic play-off draw made
« on: October 06, 2007, 07:14:21 PM »
Olympic play-off draw made

Denmark will be at home in the first leg of the play-off with Sweden to decide Europe's third representatives at the 2008 Olympic women's football tournament.

Positions decided
Germany and Norway booked returns to China with their runs at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which concludes on Sunday, but third-best European performers England are ineligible for the Olympic tournament as the United Kingdom. Consequently Sweden and Denmark, who were eliminated in the group stage, will meet home and away to claim the vacant position. The order of matches has been decided by today's draw with the dates to be determined in the next couple of weeks.


England International Football / Hope and glory?
« on: September 26, 2007, 06:16:27 PM »
Hope and glory?

Was the England women's team World Cup campaign a success?

Before the Women's World Cup, England manager Hope Powell targeted the quarter-finals as a realistic target for her team.
So despite bowing out to the two-times champions USA, it could be argued that England's job was well and truly done, particularly as they established themselves as Europe's third best team behind Germany and Norway.

Television audiences were treated to four live England games, giving the team unprecedented exposure (1.7m watched the England v US match).
And in Kelly Smith, the tournament served up a talent which many viewers had not even heard of beforehand.
Although the standard of goalkeeping has been the hot topic of the tournament, England's performance was reminiscent of the men's team but the reaction to reaching the quarter-finals could not be more contrasting.
"Didn't they do well?" seems to be the run of it but is that a fair assessment? And at what point does positive coverage become patronising?


England were unbeaten in their group games against Japan, Germany and Argentina and eventually lost 3-0 to the USA in the quarter-finals.
But the only team they managed to beat was Argentina and the South Americans scored just once (against England) and conceded 18 goals in their three games.

2-2 v Japan
0-0 v Germany
6-1 v Argentina
0-3 v USA

Hope Powell said England lacked firepower after their defeat to the USA, but it is an assessment which could be levelled at all their performances.

England's strength was their defence which showed against Germany, where they were resolute and disciplined.

But while Kelly Smith proved a stand-out player, scoring four times in all, little seemed to be done to support her going forward. Indeed against the USA she went largely missing.
Still, the overall showing was a vast improvement on the European Championships in 2005 where as host nation, England embarrassingly went out at the first stage.

Powell said pre-tournament that the team were the fittest England side ever. But they needed to be.
Whilst other teams were careful to retain the ball in the stifling China heat, at times, England were working twice as hard to get it back.

There were some fine performances from defenders such as the rock-solid Faye White and Anita Asante. Others such as forward Eniola Aluko and winger Rachel Yankey did little to help the likes of Smith in attack.
Perhaps it was the big occasion, with the prospect of so many watching worldwide? But it was clear that some players were woefully short of big-game experience.
In goal, Rachel Brown was unfortunate that her last contribution to the tournament was letting the ball bounce over her head for the USA's third goal. That belied her fantastic save to earn England a draw against Germany.
England worked well together as a team but, Smith aside, lacked any real quality to open up a decent defence.

Hope Powell has been in charge of the England team since 1998 and arguably the performance in China was her greatest achievement coming after an unbeaten qualifying campaign.
England are certainly well coached, as their defensive showing attests to, but would a new face or new ideas enable England to win a knock-out game in major championships?

At times, Kelly Smith was cast adrift. Surely a team built around its best asset would have a better chance of progressing rather than hoping that a strong defensive unit would suffice?

That said, Powell's ability to get the best from a bunch who are largely part-time players should not be questioned too vigorously.

How much positive coverage does £4.5m buy?
That's the figure which the FA currently invests in girls and women's football each year. So what should we expect for that figure? Not to be critical of the woman's game at all?
That seems to have been an issue which has kept cropping up since Argentina's 11-0 demolition by Germany.

Whilst most would regard some of the goalkeeping howlers as woeful, others have tried to gloss over their severity, perhaps recognising the bigger picture.
The World Cup has been the first time many viewers will have seen the women's game at its highest level, and as a comparison to the men's game, it simply does not come up to scratch.
But those in the women's game would argue that comparison is unfair.
Women's football is still in its infancy and the majority of those on show in China are part-time players. Nearly all of the England squad have to fit in training and playing around full-time jobs.

"We've put on a good display throughout the tournament and we'll learn a lot from it," Powell said.

No doubt the organisers will too, and consider the wisdom of pitting Germany against Argentina in the opening fixture.

The tournament has been seen as a stepping stone to what, hopefully, will be a more experienced England side which can compete with the bigger teams such as the USA and Germany.

And in confirming they are Europe's third best team, Powell has a legitimate claim that England should be part of the Olympics in Beijing next year.

It will also provide the FA with a key dilemma as to what they must do next. Particularly as they are set to receive an extra £125m from FA Cup and England TV deals over the next four years.

Although the England team is largely successful, it has been in spite of the domestic league rather than because of it.
The folding of Charlton Ladies, once one of the most successful teams, sums up the current state of the women's Premier League.

FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick is in favour of playing in the summer but realistically, will that make the game more competitive with the prospect of a new professional league in the USA looming? And will it benefit the national side?
More effective might be the idea of issuing central contracts, already used by the US team.

As Kelly Smith says: "They are training with the ball every day and playing as a team, whereas we are not anywhere close to them in terms of their salaries so it is a little bit frustrating.
"What would happen if we did have that money coming in, how far could we possibly go?"

It seems that until a decision is made, England might have to be content with reaching the knock-out stage come the World Cup in 2011.


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