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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
Hope springs eternal for England
England coach Hope Powell
Powell: Not overawed by Germany's record
By BBC Sport Online's Sophie Brown

The week of an England v Germany World Cup qualifier and there is barely a mention of the game to be found in the newspapers.

No, not some parallel universe but an indictment of the paucity of media coverage of women's football.

It is a situation that may be rectified if Hope Powell's team can overcome Germany in the first group qualifying match in Kassel on Thursday.

But it is a big "if" - because Germany are the reigning European champions and England have never beaten them.

The two teams last met in Euro 2001 with Germany running out 3-0 winners.

  England's record v Germany
1984: Lost 0-2
1990: Lost 1-3
1990: Lost 1-4
1990: Lost 0-2
1994: Lost 1-4
1994: Lost 1-2
1995: Lost 0-3
1997: Lost 4-6
1997: Lost 0-3
1998: Lost 0-1
2001: Lost 0-3

Powell, who has been England coach since 1998, knows the size of the task facing her side.

"We're under no illusions and we have to be realistic," she says.

"We recognise that Germany are European champions."

But Powell says she would rather concentrate on the qualities of her own team.

"For us, we're looking at our players and their level of competence.

"Collectively Germany are a very strong outfit but we also have some very good strengths.

"Preparation is the key and we have been preparing a strategy."

Rebuilding

Although England registered just one goal and one point in Euro 2001, it was a side in transition.

Marieanne Spacey
Marieanne Spacey retired during Euro 2001

This year has seen the retirement of three of its stalwarts - Marieannie Spacey, Gill Coultard and Mo Marley.

The average age of England's back four during Euro 2001 was 20 and Powell believes they can only improve from the experience.

"There's a nice collective team spirit which is partly a result of the European Championships," she says.

"We're starting to bring a lot of youngsters to this level of competition."

The relative inexperience of the team was one of the reasons why Powell has handed the captaincy back to Tara Proctor.

Proctor missed the last match, a friendly against Denmark, which England lost.

"She is a good motivator and she has a very good relationship with the youngsters," says Powell.

Holland and Portugal are the other teams in the group and England will face both before the end of the year.

They then play the return fixtures with the final match a home game against Germany.

Only the group winner is guaranteed a place in the finals in China in 2003.

If England are in with a chance of achieving that top spot when they entertain the Germans next May, Hope Powell should be more than happy.

See also:

23 Sep 01 |  Football
Banks bags hat-trick
02 Jul 01 |  Womens Euro 2001
England women show promise
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