England’s skipper Faye White blogs from the England camp in Finland following their 1-1 draw against Sweden. Today England progressed to the semi finals following their win over hosts Finland.
All eyes are on the quarter final insists England skipper, Faye White. I didn’t get to sleep until 3am this morning after last night’s game.
It’s always hard after a match, some players manage to drift off but I found myself listening to music and surfing the internet, willing my eyes to close but I was just too wired from the game to be able to shut them.
I woke up about 8am this morning and felt a mixture of elation and relief.
Elation because I felt we had put in a performance against a top side that we could be happy about and relief because despite the see-saw ride of the past week, we had made it through a pretty tricky group and could look forward to a date with the hosts on Thursday, in our first European quarter final since 1995.
The draw felt like a victory
I think we can be honest and say there were a lot of improvements to be made across the team after our opening two games, we didn’t put ourselves in a great position but I think everyone was a lot happier after last night’s game, though I still think there is much more to come from us.
What I do feel is that the vibe and mood in the squad is more upbeat this morning and I think the result last night felt like a victory as it’s got us through to where we want to be, and that’s in the next round.
Credit to Sweden, they are a very good team with lots of energy and they pressed us all over the pitch. We haven’t played against a 4-4-2 formation in the tournament yet and they made life very difficult for us in the first half.
I don’t think we could get our passing game going as fluently as we would have liked yet I still feel we threatened well and played more expansively after a nervous start. We might have got a little luck with their disallowed goal but it was a great relief to get our noses in front and I was delighted with my goal.
Most important goal of my career
I said in the press conference after the game that it was most probably the most important goal of my career. I was pleased with the header, I tend to do better when I don’t have too much time to think about scoring and rely on instinct and seeing the header go in was a great moment.
The last England goal I scored was against Belarus right at the start of the qualifiers, which was a while ago now, so it was good to get back to scoring. I always feel I should be a threat at corners and free kicks with my height and having hit the bar in the last game, it was sweet to see that drop over the goalie.
But just as important was Alex Scott’s goalline clearance right on half time. Sweden had just converted the penalty which was harsh on us and were coming much more into the game. Alex was carrying a knock but I thought her grit and determination was outstanding and that clearance allowed us to keep some momentum and go in level at the break.
I think we had the better of the second half, we passed better, created some good openings and finished the game strongly which was pleasing. It was a good test for us against one of the favourites in the tournament and this has given us a huge boost going into the quarter final stage.
Focus is now on Finland
Straight after the game, all thoughts turned to who we were facing and when. There were so many permutations so we all wanted to be clear in our heads. It was difficult to know and understand how there could be so many possibilities dependent on the results of both group games last night.
I think the draw has been kind to us to be honest, it’s opened up slightly and facing Sweden again or Germany would mean that we have reached the Final of the competition.
We are now focused on Finland here in Turku in a couple of days. Playing the host nation at a major tournament is always special and the squad is looking forward to the game.
I’m sure there will be a capacity crowd which means the atmosphere will be pretty hot. I think it has a capacity of around 8,000 but I’m sure the Finns would fill that three times over if the capacity was more, so it will be a huge test for us.
It would be criminal to underestimate the Finnish team and we’ve already had a meeting about that this morning. The hard work starts now and we have a real opportunity to put a marker down in this competition and do well.
The Finns will come prepared and have a good crowd behind them, but if we play to our capabilities and take our performance from last night into the game, I’m sure we have a good chance of progressing.
Playing in Turku has an added bonus of meaning we don’t have to move anywhere before the game. We’ve moved three times already in under ten days and it’s hard to get settled and relax when you know you can’t really unpack.
Recovery time for the squad
We can now stay here for a couple of days, get used to our rooms and focus on the job in hand, and I think it was nice for all the staff and players to wake up this morning and have a bit of a lie-in instead of loading and packing all morning.
We’ve had a recovery day today, there are a few aches and strains within the squad but nothing I’m sure the medical team can’t handle. They’ve been excellent with the players throughout the tournament and we will be ready to go again come Thursday.
I will be trying to look at as many Finland videos as I can get hold off to make sure I’m ready for the game. You can never know enough about your opponents, the way they play and their strengths and weaknesses. We are now at the business end of this tournament and we cannot wait for Thursday afternoon.
Faye White, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine