England team seek fame across pond
Saturday 22 September 2007
As if defeating the No 1 team in the world were not motivation enough for England's women when they face the United States here today in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, the team have the added incentive of putting pressure on Fifa to allow them into the Olympics next year.
The world governing body has refused permission for the England squad to represent Great Britain in the 2008 Games despite qualifying as one of the three remaining European sides in the World Cup. British Olympic officials will make a fresh attempt to secure permission for the team to play, and their claim will be enhanced if Hope Powell's team progress to the semi-finals against such a recognised power as the US.
Powell will use a familiar trick to inspire her team. Kelly Smith, with four goals in England's three group games, is well known to the American players, having been a leading name in the now-defunct professional WUSA league. Brandi Chastain, the American player who became famous for whipping off her shirt to reveal her bra after scoring the winning penalty in the 1995 World Cup, yesterday said Smith was, "a national treasure – the best kept secret in women's football for many years."
But the goalkeeper Hope Solo, a former team-mate of Smith at Philadelphia Charge, fired up Powell's players when she said: "They've got some of my favourite players, obviously including Kelly Smith. [But] I don't recall the other names."
Those words have gone on to England's "Wall of Inspiration", which is packed with good luck messages and psychological boosters. Powell said: "They might not know us by name, but they will have watched us. Everyone knows Kelly, but this is a great opportunity for other players to show what they can do."
Arsenal's Katie Chapman returns after suspension to replace the banned Fara Williams.
Powell must decide whether to move Smith to a deeper position to provide the quality on the ball that Williams usually offers.
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