Olympics Preview: Great Britain

Darrell Allen profiles Team GB who make their first appearance in the women’s football event at the Olympic Games since 2012 (as pictured above via Sky Sports).

Squad News:

After the excitement that the England team brought to the men’s Euros, it is now the turn of Team GB in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, delayed of course by one year due to the pandemic but the sense of anticipation is greater than ever with it being only the second time Team GB have entered a team into the women’s football section of this prestigious event.

Being based in Norfolk, I am very proud to see the inclusion of Lauren Hemp in the squad, notably as Team GB’s youngest player. The squad sees ten other debutants from England – Millie Bright, Lucy Bronze, Rachel Daly, Fran Kirby, Nikita Parris, Ellie Roebuck, Georgia Stanway, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson along with Wales’ Sophie Ingle and Scotland’s Caroline Weir.

There are also five players from the London 2012 games with Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Ellen White and Kim Little returning to the GB fold. Sandy MacIver, Carly Telford, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Niamh Charles and Ella Toone complete the squad. 

Above: Hege Riise, Head Coach of the Great Britain Olympic team. Photo: Lynne Cameron/Getty Images.

Coach:

Hege Riise will take charge of the squad in Tokyo, and with experience at the Games herself having won gold with Norway at Sydney in 2000. Riise is a coach of the highest calibre and is one of only three women in the world to have won the holy grail of the Olympics, World Cup and European Championships. She celebrates her birthday tomorrow (18th July) and will be hoping celebrations continue across the coming weeks. 

Olympics History:

Team GB’s previous appearance at the Olympics was in 2012, when they took part as host nation. Hope Powell’s side topped a group containing Brazil, Cameroon and New Zealand before succumbing 2-0 to Canada in the quarter-finals. 

Qualifying:

Great Britain qualified for the Olympics automatically as a result of England’s fourth place finish at the 2019 World Cup in France. All of Europe’s qualification places were decided by performances at that tournament. 

Strengths:

I have much confidence the team will perform well. There is a wealth of talented through the squad, particularly in offensive positions with many recognisable faces from the FAWSL and especially from Chelsea’s title winning season which also saw Emma Hayes’ team make the Champions League Final.

Development Areas:

Defence however has always been a concern for me and this will potentially be a major issue, particularly when coming up against the stronger nations. 

Above: Team GB’s Fran Kirby – in the form of her life. Photo: Eurosport.

Key Players:

Whilst I hope the whole squad embrace the opportunity and give the nation something to be proud about, watch out for Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle, who will be making her first appearance on the big international stage after so many years of giving outstanding service to Wales. Additionally, her South-West London team-mate Fran Kirby is in the form of her life.

One to watch:

I of course will be hoping Lauren Hemp features as after emerging from North Walsham High School, she is doing Norfolk and most importantly herself and her family so very proud. She is getting better and better each season with Manchester City and has offered a real threat for England in her most recent appearances.

Prediction: Semi-Finals

Group Fixtures inc KO times (local/UK)

Great Britain v Chile, 21st July, Sapporo Dome. 8.30am BST.

Japan v Great Britain, 24th July, Sapporo Dome. 11.30am BST.

Canada v Great Britain, 27th July, Kashima Stadium. 12.00 midday BST.

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