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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 September 2006, 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
Delighted Powell salutes England
FA director of development Sir Trevor Brooking congratulates England women coach Hope Powell
Powell's team ended on top of their qualifying group
England Women coach Hope Powell praised her side after seeing them earn a battling 1-1 draw in France to qualify for the 2007 World Cup finals in China.

"I'm just so glad it's over," she said. "I think the girls were magnificent."

"Our backs were against the wall but we stuck to our game plan. We knew it would be tough. A lot of credit must go to the French, they're a good side.

"But I think over the whole course of the qualifiers, we deserved it. I'm absolutely delighted."

Powell said that the disappointment felt by the squad after their exit at the Euro 2005 championship in England had inspired them during the World Cup qualifying campaign.

That result was for Faye White - I sent her a text before the game saying I'm playing for you as well

England midfielder Kelly Smith
"At the end of it, we were absolutely devastated and shattered," she said. "We knew there was more to come.

"They put the work in and got something out of it."

Powell added: "We have got a lot of character in this squad and there's more to come. You can see the elation, they're absolutely delighted and so am I. It's all paid off."

England captain Mary Phillip, the only survivor of England's one previous World Cup campaign in 1995, said the match had been a nerve-wracking experience.

"It was a battle from the start. We knew a draw would take us through, and getting that goal to take the lead took a bit of weight off our shoulders," she said.

"But they scored and we knew we had to dig in deep and hold on. But we stuck at it and now we're flying out to China next year."

606 VIEW
BBC Sport's Dan W
England midfielder Kelly Smith dedicated England's success to absent skipper Faye White.

White is currently recovering from ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments and is unlikely to play until next year - although she will be hopeful of making the finals in September 2007.

"We're absolutely exhausted but what a game," said Smith.

"We didn't play the best football but it wasn't about that, it was about coming out and grinding out a result.

"People's legs were tired, but we are going to the World Cup.

"That result was for Faye. I sent her a text before the game saying 'I'm playing for you as well.'

"This is my dream, I can't believe this has happened. I've had sleepless nights all week.

"I can't even talk. It's amazing, we're going to China next year. I can't wait, I'm training tomorrow."



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