England eager to forget draw against Mexico and focus on New Zealand

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “England eager to forget draw against Mexico and focus on New Zealand” was written by John Ashdown in Dresden, for The Guardian on Tuesday 28th June 2011 21.09 UTC

England can put the disappointment of their 1-1 draw against Mexico behind them and take a decisive step towards the World Cup quarter-finals against New Zealand on Friday, according to the defender Sophie Bradley.

Hope Powell’s side faded badly after Monica Ocampo’s 30-yard strike just after the half-hour cancelled out Fara Williams’s thumping header in their opening group game against the Concacaf Championship runners-up, but the England camp have been determined to accentuate the positives in the aftermath.

“In the first half-hour we were all over them and Fara scored a great goal, but after we conceded I felt we stopped playing our own game through to half-time,” said Bradley. “In the second half we missed a few chances, but although we ended up with only one point there were lots of positives we can take from the performance into our next game.”

The Lincoln Ladies player is well aware of the challenge posed by New Zealand – who lost their opening game against Japan, the top-ranked side in Group B – having faced the Football Ferns in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Peace Cup in Korea last October, a game that Powell’s side won 3-0. In the official tournament game, the sides played out a scoreless draw.

“It was a tough game despite the scoreline and I think it will be tough again on Friday,” said Bradley. “But if we can put the things right that we didn’t get quite right in the first match, we can get the result we want.”

England may have been frustrated by Mexico but for the 21-year-old the moment she replaced Faye White in the second half ended a long wait for a chance to perform on the global stage. Bradley had been three days away from representing her country at the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile in 2008 when an injury in a warm-up game ruled her out of the tournament.

“It was a bit nerve-racking when I was told to warm up, but it was also very exciting because it meant I might be getting my chance to play in a World Cup match for the first time,” she said. “When Hope called me over a few minutes later to tell me I was going on she said to keep it simple but then said: ‘Don’t concede.’ Once I was on the pitch my nerves disappeared and I really enjoyed the short time I was on, although it was obviously disappointing that we ended the game with only a draw.”

Elsewhere in Germany, two players have been told they cannot play in the tournament. The Colombia goalkeeper Yineth Varon has been provisionally suspended following a positive drugs test, while Jade Boho Sayo of Equatorial Guinea has been suspended for two months over what Fifa described as “eligibility matters”. The striker had been a member of the Spanish team that won the 2004 European Under-19 Championships but opted to play for the African side at senior level last year.

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