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Expectancy very high now - Hope
 Women's Football News 19 May 2011
Expectancy very high now - Hope - 19 May 2011 - Women's Football NewsHope Powell was delighted overall with England's 2-0 victory over Sweden in their friendly international at Oxford, but warned her players that the hard work is yet to come.
England recorded their second successive victory against a top ten ranked country in their final match ahead of this summer's World Cup Finals in Germany and Hope admitted: "Expectancy is very high now. I have been telling the team to let them know they are expected to win.
"I think we went into the game very nervous and very edgy in the first fifteen minutes and I think Sweden were very unlucky not to get a goal or two. I was pleased when it was half time so that we could have a discussion and put things right.
"The players are very honest and they recognised that the tempo was a bit lacklustre. We had a discussion, we made changes and tried to re-focus and let them realise they are a team that can play football.
"We tightened up and protected the back line a little more [in the second half] and Sweden reverted to type with the long ball. They've got big girls to the aerial battle was quite testing for us so we tidied up the link between the back four and the midfield while hitting on the break - that was the plan and they implemented it."
Hope admitted that Jill Scott's goal in the opening minute of the second half was the turning point of the match. "The goal really settled us and we played with a lot more freedom," she said. "We tried the things we know we are good at, the through balls and players running on. Eni [Aluko] should have had a few goals by her own admission, she is bitterly disappointed that she didn't score but I think I'd be more concerned if she didn't get herself into those scoring positions.
"The players who came on for the second half, I think did particularly well. Steph [Houghton] protected the back four exceptionally well and allowed Jill [Scott] to join in, Eni used her pace and trickery well and ran at the back line and put them on the back foot, Claire Rafferty is a tough kid, she got us out of trouble, tried to play and that's what we want. All in all, those players contributed to us getting a result."
Looking ahead to the World Cup, Hope insisted that the wins over the USA and Sweden will count for nothing once the tournament gets underway. "You want to go into major tournaments on a high, full of confidence, knowing you are capable of beating major nations. I think that the most important thing, and it's going to be a test going into a World Cup, you have to get results when the game matters - when points are at stake. But these games will give us confidence.
"I sometimes think it's easier to go into a tournament as an underdog. Certainly that happened in Finland but now the expectation and focus will be on us. Opposing teams will prepare themselves against us as we're a team that everyone wants to beat but that's a compliment."
When asked how close she was to knowing who her 21 players would be for the World Cup, Hope quipped: "I will have the 21 absolutely firmed up on 10th June."

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