A must-win Euro 2013 qualifier against Croatia is the perfect way for England’s Team GB stars to re-focus following their fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime Olympic Games experience, says captain Casey Stoney.
When Hope Powell’s team line up to face the Croatians at Walsall FC in their final group game on Wednesday, the crowd will be only a fraction of the 70,000 that turned out at Wembley to cheer Team GB to a memorable 1-0 Olympics win against Brazil.
But with a place at next year’s Euro finals in Sweden at stake the only thing on the minds of Stoney and Co will be completing the double over Croatia – who they beat 6-0 away – to assure themselves of automatic qualification as group winners.
Stoney, who also captained Team GB at London 2012, said: “There’s such a massive carrot for winning this game that it’s a really good one to come back into England duty after coming down from the Olympics.
“That come-down has been tough. I was so disappointed that we went out in the quarter-finals, when I was convinced we would medal, that instead of going back to the Olympic village I went abroad for 10 days to get away from everything.
“I was absolutely gutted after we’d lost that quarter-final to Canada, but then going away for a break was the best thing I could have done. It re-focused my mind and now I’m ready to go at Walsall, as are the rest of the girls.
“I didn’t play in the game that we won in Croatia – in fact I kept up to date with it on Twitter – but we got three early goals to set us up for a comfortable victory and we know that we’ll be expected to win with ease again this time.
“We don’t feel that way, though. We know that Croatia have got some good players and they’ll go into the match with nothing to lose, so we’ve got to be very professional in our approach and make sure that we’re all on our ‘A’ game.
“Hopefully there will be a good crowd and it’s great that the match is being shown live on BBC2, so we’ll hopefully have lots of people turning on their TV’s to watch. We’ll be aiming to put on a show and clinch that place in Sweden next year.”
(Image: FA via Getty Images)
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