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28th February 2010

Hope Powell focuses on Switzerland as England lose grip on Cyprus Cup

• Holders need Canada to lose to minnows South Africa
• Coach hopes to ‘finish on a winning note’

Hope Powell is taking the long-term view ahead of tomorrow’s final Cyprus Cup group game, against Switzerland in Nicosia. Powell’s England team look set to relinquish their hold on the trophy.

Yesterday’s 1-0 defeat by Canada, whom they beat 3-1 in last year’s final, means England must beat the Swiss while hoping that Canada lose their 100% record against Group Two’s weakest side, South Africa, whom Powell’s team beat 1-0 in their opening fixture.

Wednesday’s final will be contested by the winners of the two groups, so England will probably have to settle for a play-off for third place. But with World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Spain coming up in the next month, Powell will be putting as much emphasis on the performance as the result against the Swiss.

“It will be disappointing if we don’t make the final,” said Powell. “But it was a bonus getting to last year’s final in what is essentially a development tournament that gives us the chance to look at players, experiment with things and develop our game as a team and as individuals.

“We didn’t play well against South Africa and we weren’t at our best in the first half of the Canada game. In the second half we outplayed them and created a number of chances. We couldn’t convert them but it was a far more positive performance and if we can take that into the Switzerland game and put our chances away, then hopefully we can finish the group on a winning note.”

England have fared better than Scotland in Group One. Anna Signeul’s team have lost 4-1 to Holland and 2-0 to Italy and look set to collect the wooden spoon unless they can beat New Zealand tomorrow. Signeul said: “We are improving as a team but we will have to cut out the mistakes that have been costing us.”

International calls meant that only one Premier League game was played today. It saw Blackburn move off the foot of the table with a 4-2 win against Watford.


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