Previewing Great Britain Women’s Olympic Football Team
GREAT BRITAIN: “Team GB”
FIFA Ranking: N/A
Coach: Hope Powell
Number of Olympics Appearances: This will be Great Britain’s first time participating in women’s soccer at an Olympic. Normally there is no single national team representing the Great Britain. England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland often compete separately.
Group: E (Brazil, Cameroon, New Zealand)
First Match: against New Zealandl, July 25
Road to qualifying: Great Britain’s road to the Olympics was not without conflict.As a host nation, the United Kingdom had the right to enter a team in the tournament. The Football Association (FA), the governing body of football in England, would select the British team that would compete in the Games. The Scottish Football Association, the Irish Football Association, and the Football Association of Wales were reluctant to discuss and take part in a unified team. Initially FA would select English players only to complete, but later announced that it came into an agreement with the British Olympics Association (BOA) and select a British team that included players from across the United Kingdom. The final roster includes 18 English players, 3 Scottish players, and 1 Northern Ireland player.
Karen Bardsley, Goalkeeper (Linkopings)
Rachel Brown, Goalkeeper (Everton)
Sophie Bradley, Defender (Lincoln Ladies)
Ifeoma Dieke, Defender (Vittsjo GIK)
Claire Rafferty, Defender (Chelsea)
Alex Scott, Defender (Arsenal)
Casey Stoney, Defender (Lincoln Ladies)
Anita Asante, Midfielder (Kopparberg/Goteborg FC)
Steph Houghton, Midfielder (Arsenal)
Kim Little, Midfielder (Arsenal)
Jill Scott, Midfielder (Everton)
Fara Williams, Midfielder (Everton L.F.C.)
Eniola Aluko, Forward (Birmingham City)
Karen Carney, Forward (Birmingham City)
Kelly Smith, Forward (Arsenal)
Rachel Williams, Forward (Birmingham City)
Rachel Yankey, Forward (Arsenal)
Emma Higgins, Goalkeeper (KR)
Dunia Susi, Defender (Chelsea)
Jessica Clark, Forward (Lincoln Ladies)
Jane Ross, Forward (Glasgow City)
Key players: As noted earlier, several players on the Great Britain’s team are members of England Women’s National Football Team. This squad has a good mix of talented young and veteran football players. One of key players to look out for is Kelly Smith, a forward and a member of the England Women’s national football team. To this date, Smith is considered England’s best female football player with 45 goals. She nearly missed the Olympics Games due to an ankle injury, but recovered in time to be named to the Olympics squad. Other players to watch includes Rachel Yankey (forward), Alex Scott (defender), Kim Little (midfielder), and Fara Williams (midfielder).
Prediction: With a squad with notable players across the United Kingdom, I believe Great Britain can defeat New Zealand Women’s National Soccer Team and Cameroon Women’s National Soccer Team. Great Britain will find Brazil as its toughest competitor in Group E. With five times FIFA’s Player of the Year Marta at the helm, two-time defending Olympic silver medalist Brazilian team is determined to finish the group with aplomb and advance to the next round. However, I believe that if Brazil cannot put in solid defensive effort, Great Britain squad has a chance to break through.
Recently, Great Britain played a friendly game against South Africa and defeated the Banyana Banyana by 3-1. On July 20th, Great Britain will play a friendly game against Sweden. It will be interesting to see how they fare against FIFA’s fourth ranked women’s soccer team in the world.