England Women wary of the Dutch in 2013 Euro qualifiers
By Tony Leighton
England coach Hope Powell will be wary of an improving Netherlands side when the 2013 Women's European Championship qualifiers kick off in September.
Powell's team will be favourites to win Group 6 which includes Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia as well as the Netherlands.
England were runners-up to Germany at Euro 2009, but they reached the final only after a hard-fought extra-time win against the Dutch in the last four.
"I'm happy with the draw," said Powell, who saw the Dutch at the Cyprus Cup.
Roger Reijner's team reached the Cyprus Cup final last week with a 100% record before having to settle for the runners-up spot after losing 2-1 to Canada.
"I don't know too much yet about Slovenia, Serbia or Croatia, but I do know all about Holland and they're dangerous," added Powell.
"Their style has changed since Roger took over from Vera [Pauw] and they now have a more attacking mindset. They were very effective on the counter-attack under Vera, but now they play through the thirds and they looked very good in Cyprus.
"The way they play might actually suit us better, but they will definitely be difficult opponents. And although we will rightly be expected to beat the other three teams, we will give them all due respect too."
The respective world rankings of the three smaller nations suggests that 10th-placed England should have no problems with Serbia (45th), Slovenia (60th) or Croatia (65th).
Powell's team start their campaign with a game against Serbia in September followed by a trip to the Netherlands (15th) in October.
Of the other home nations, Scotland and Wales face France, the Republic of Ireland and Israel in Group 4 and Northern Ireland take on Norway, Iceland, Belgium, Hungary and Bulgaria in Group 3.
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