Team GB's football teams aiming for medal success


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The Independent Online

Both of Team GB's football teams have made it through to the quarter-finals stage and keeper Karen Bardsley has her sights set on medal success.

The women’s bid to secure a medal match begins first with a clash against Canada in Coventry this evening before the men return to the Millennium Stadium tomorrow, when South Korea stand between them and the semi-finals.

Canada are ranked two places higher than the ninth position occupied by England, whose players comprise the vast majority of Great Britain’s squad, in FIFA’s latest list but expectancy will be buoyed by their two contrasting paths to this point of the competition.

Canada have won only one match in Group F — a 3-0 success over South Africa — and qualified as one of the two lucky losers, while Great Britain extended their 100 per cent record with a hugely impressive win over Brazil earlier this week.

The platform for their progression has been a well-organised defensive base that has not conceded a goal — Great Britain are the only team in the women’s tournament that are yet to be breached.

Bardsley has not been overly worked but conducted her business in authoritative and confident fashion.

The 27-year-old has dual nationality, as she was born in Santa Monica, California to English parents, and has no qualms about the decision she made  to play for Great Britain. “I chose to represent my family’s country,” she said. “I don’t have any family in the United States. This means the world to me. And I hope we are regarded as a success story.

“We don’t know whether this is ever going to happen again. We want to seize the opportunity whilst it is still fresh. We want to make this a successful journey.

“We want to make the country proud of us and try to put women’s football in the public eye. We work hard and we deserve some respect.

“We haven’t conceded a goal yet and, hopefully, that continues. It is a terrific foundation. It goes back to our preparation and discipline as a unit. We have really come together.

“As a team, we are all on the same page. It is the team spirit that makes us feel we are all in it together and are doing it for each other.

“I hope that we can just carry the momentum over and focus on what we need to do.”

Momentum is not exclusive to the women, as the men’s charge has gathered pace and Butland played a key role on Wednesday night to preserving their involvement.

Uruguay pushed hard to overturn a 1-0 deficit and a defeat would have sent Stuart Pearce’s side crashing out but Butland produced a series of fine stops and South Korea now lie in wait in Cardiff tomorrow.

The 19-year-old’s increasingly prominent role represents a stunning rise for a player representing Cheltenham Town in League One last season before travelling as back-up to Joe Hart at Euro 2012.

“It has been meteoric,” he told Standard Sport. “It has been a fast roller-coaster ride. I knew at the start of the season that after the Under-20 World Cup I needed to go out and get games. I had two spells at Cheltenham. That stood me in good stead for the Under-21 games.

“And I would like to think that helped me get into the England squad. I have really worked hard this season and I have really enjoyed my football. It keeps coming.

“Hopefully, we can go a long way in this tournament and I can push on again.”