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England have reached a tournament final for the first time in 25 years but Head Coach Hope Powell, after seeing her team beat Scotland 3-0 to confirm themselves as the Cyprus Cup's Group A winners, took the achievement calmly in her stride as she looked ahead to Thursday's decider against Group B winners Canada.
Powell, a midfielder in the England side that lost the 1984 European Championship final to Sweden, said: "Finals are what you plan and prepare for, so for this England team to actually reach one for the first time is very pleasing.
"The experience of getting to and then playing in a final can only be good for the team's development, as will playing against Canada. They're a big team, they're physically very strong and last time we played them they beat us 4-0. So it's going to be a real test."
Powell's side have already passed three tests in Cyprus, comfortable wins against South Africa and Scotland sandwiching a draw with a French team who sit two places higher than England at eighth in the world rankings.
In the process they have hit 11 goals and conceded only two, wrapping up their group haul with goals against Scotland by striker Eniola Aluko, midfielder Emily Westwood and right winger Jess Clarke.
Powell said: "Historically it's always proved quite difficult to play against Scotland. It took us a bit of time to settle today and we were a bit naive at times - and credit to Scotland because they put us under a bit of pressure - but we controlled most of the game and the important thing was that we got the result."
Powell was particularly pleased that the result had been achieved despite making no fewer than nine changes to the starting line-up for Saturday's game against France. That meant every member of the 21-player had started at least one of the three group matches and Powell said: "It's very encouraging and good for the squad overall that we've been able to ring the changes and reach the final.
"This tournament was always about pulling the squad together as part of our preparations for the European Championship finals (in August and September), but the immediate focus now will be on this final and we'll use it to give the players the added pressure of coping with that situation. It's another new experience for the squad, and we'll address it in a professional manner."
Courtesy of Tony Leighton/www.TheFA.com
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