Powell urges players to banish nerves

20 July 2012 / 22:38

Coach Hope Powell wants her Great Britain women's football players to overcome their nerves ahead of their Olympic kick-off next Wednesday.

Although the squad more than held their own in a 0-0 friendly draw with Sweden on Friday afternoon, they rarely threatened Hedvig Lindahl's goal, short of Rachel Yankee hitting the post in the second half.

Powell felt that their shyness around the 18-yard box was in part down to anxiety - this was any Team GB's first football fixture away from an Olympics - but was still pleased with how they fared against the World Cup bronze medalists.

She does want improvements ahead of the Games opener with New Zealand next week, though, with her first port of call being the confidence of her players. Powell said: "I think we need to play with a bit more freedom.

"I learned that we have gelled in parts, but in the first half we played within ourselves. We were a little bit negative at times when we could have gone forward, final-third play, little things."

With the game serving as part of a double-header - GB men were due to face Brazil afterwards - Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium was well populated come the final whistle and, with the game also live on television, the spotlight was turned up, giving an indication of the interest in the Olympics.

Powell embraces that and hopes, with this fixture ticked off, her players can now loosen up ahead of their meeting with the Kiwis.

"By the girls' own admissions they were a bit nervy, a bit negative going backwards and they recognised that and I think we did something about it in the second half," she said. "The final ball let us down every time and it's something we need to work on.

"I think it was a good advert, I hope it came across well, but we have to remember they are World Cup bronze medalists and they are a classy side. We have to remember who we were up against. We didn't lose the game and we did outplay them at times.

"I think we can get that first game out of the way and just relax. It's our first time as Team GB and you will be nervous, what do you expect? But I'm sure they will rise to the occasion."