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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 September 2007, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
England talk up World Cup chances

By Tony Leighton

England striker Kelly Smith
We are the fittest and strongest England team ever and can make a real impact at the tournament

Striker Kelly Smith

England head into their first Women's World Cup finals in 12 years facing a tough task but with confidence riding high.

After an unbeaten qualifying campaign that resulted in them topping their group ahead of favourites France, Hope Powell's team have no fears about the opposition they are set to meet.

Reigning champions Germany, Asian power Japan - making their fifth successive appearance in the finals - and Argentina are the teams they face in their group.

606: DEBATE
Powell said: "It's a difficult group but we've prepared very thoroughly, we've done our homework on the opposition and we're absolutely ready for this tournament.

"We've worked extremely hard to get here and we don't intend wasting that work - once the games get underway we'll be out to make our mark."

England kick off their campaign against Japan, who sit two places higher than themselves at 10th in the world rankings, at the Shanghai Hangzhou Stadium on Tuesday.

Three days later at the same ground they take on the Germans, who are joint favourites with the United States to lift the trophy.

Then on 17 September, England will be in Chengdu to meet Argentina, who - on paper at least - are the group's weakest side, with a world ranking 29.

But the up-and-coming Argentines beat Brazil, the world's eighth-ranked team, on their way to qualifying for the finals so could be set to punch above their weight.

However, Arsenal striker Kelly Smith has no doubts that England will progress. "I'm confident we can get out of the group," she confirmed.

"Germany are a great team who have often beaten us in the past but we drew with them at the China Cup in January so we won't fear them.

"We don't know much about Japan or Argentina but Hope and her staff have got detailed briefings for us about them and we will be fully prepared for every game.

"Our preparations have been spot-on, we are the fittest and strongest England team ever and I believe we can make a real impact at the tournament."



SEE ALSO
Women's World Cup schedule
21 Aug 07 |  Women
Powell reveals women's Cup squad
09 Aug 07 |  Football


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