Having reached the FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-finals, England are hot favourites to qualify for UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ from Group 1. Kelly Smith, hailed as one of the most exciting players in China, is taking nothing for granted but admits she is enjoying England's status as one of the game's giants.
"It’s great," said Arsenal LFC player Smith ahead of Saturday's fixture with Belarus in Walsall. "We've worked extremely hard to get into the position we're in. We're favourites, and all those teams are looking to knock us off." Therefore, with England having just one 4-0 win against Northern Ireland under their belts in the group, she is not looking two years hence to the finals in Finland quite yet. "That's way off, we're not looking to win anything, we’re just looking to play the next game," Smith added. "Obviously we're favourites to get out of the group, that's definitely possible. There's a long way to go. We have to qualify first."
Nonetheless, beating Argentina and drawing with both Japan and eventual winners Germany to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, where they lost 3-0 to the United States, captured the imagination of the English public and was a thrilling time for Smith and her squad-mates. "A great experience for all involved, we did ourselves proud out there," she said. "A little bit disappointed with the USA game, we let ourselves down, but no one expected us to do as well as we did so we have to take pride from that."
The only danger for Smith and the rest of the team is adapting to the reality of the everyday women's game. "I've struggled with it – you are playing in front of 30,000 and representing your country, and coming back and playing in front of 200 people," she said. "You experience such a high and you come back and it's quite tough to get going again."
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