It’s been a fruitful international break for our Arsenal Ladies with the women’s national team. England beating Wales 2-0 and Turkey 4-0 over the course of a week to maintain a perfect record in their qualifying campaign for the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
Previously in September they had defeated Belarus 6-0 and Turkey 8-0 under Brent Hills who was appointed as the caretaker following Hope Powell’s departure.
This makes it 4 wins in 4 games for the former assistant manager under Powell and strengthens his case for retaining the head coach role on a permanent basis. With the regional stages of the qualification process so close after England’s abysmal European campaign (1 point from 3 games, knocked out in the group stages and having the worst record of the competition), the FA had postponed the decision of a full-time appointment until after the first few rounds of their Group Six qualifiers. To his credit, Hills has focused solely on making sure the squad took care of the job at hand and redeemed themselves after the Euros. He didn’t think that any major changes were needed (a correct decision as is evident by recent performances) and player Karen Carney (Birmingham winger with 85 caps in an 8 year international career) reiterates this faith of their caretaker manager,
“We were obviously very disappointed with the Euros but we did not become a bad team overnight. The manager has tweaked a few things – we needed a bit of freshness, we needed to believe in ourselves and come together as a group.”
It does seem like that’s what they have managed to do so far but the real test is still to come. Both Turkey and Belarus didn’t really pose much of a challenge, while the team came through the tough game at Wales quite comfortably in the end. So these are just early days, however the positive mental impact of 4 big scoring wins on the trot shouldn’t be underrated. For now, both Hills and the team are happy to focus on the positives and keep working at becoming a stronger unit.
“I’ve not wasted energy on thinking what might be, I’ve just handled what’s in my control and we’ve started the campaign well … We’ll just have to see what the next few weeks bring … but I’ve been really pleased with the players’ efforts over these four games and we’ve dominated this one just as strongly as we did the other three.”
“Taking charge of my country for those two games was a real honour. I enjoyed every minute of it and I’m sure I will again … I was very happy with the team’s level of work during the last double-header and obviously with the manner of their performances – not just the number of goals we scored but because we continued to do the right things throughout.”
Upcoming Arsenal star, Jordan Nobbs has already shown than she is more than capable of handling regular first team action and is continuing to work hard to prove that for her country as well. (She got on the score sheet in a few of the recent games) In what is a very self-aware and grounded attitude, the 20 year old year of Keith Nobbs (a well-established player at Hartlepool between 1985 and 1993) warns against complacency and is very focused on taking it one game at a time as she trains hard to improve and continue to set high standards for herself as well as achieve World Cup qualification for her team.
“The more goals we score the better … But we still have the same mentality and we know we can’t take for granted any team we play in the qualifiers … I’m definitely privileged that I got two 90 minutes in the first two games and hopefully I proved myself and I can get some more game time. But I will take each game as it comes. I’m still training the same and hopefully I can show more of what I can do. I’ve known Brent for a long time and he has shown what he can do in the last few games … I don’t mind who is coaching me, I want to be out there on the pitch.”
The men’s team is not the only facing Champions League fixtures this week, with the Arsenal Ladies gearing up for their Round of 16 tie against the Glasgow City Ladies. This poster below has all the information for the first leg this Saturday at the Hive, while you can check out this link for the details about the Scotland leg on November 13 in Glasgow.
Before I call it a day, I want to share news about a great upcoming fundraising campaign. Women’s Aid is a UK charity dedicated to protecting women and children against domestic violence, and through “Charlie’s Big Challenge” they also aim to project the message that football culture stands united against domestic violence, and hope that this event can unite fans, clubs and players at all levels of the game. Starting in January 2014, Charlie Webster, a TV presenter and Women’s Aid ambassador will be running a total of 250 miles over 7 consecutive days and as part of her journey also visit 40 major football clubs. Gunners Fair will have a special feature about this campaign, so watch out for that and thanks for reading! I appreciate all the continuing support and encouragement.
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.