With the FIFA Women's World Cup in the bag, Germany coach Silvia Neid looks to UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ and beyond as she discusses the secret for staying at the top.
Silvia Neid's head coaching career does not make for bad reading. One major tournament entered, one major tournament won – the FIFA Women's World Cup.
World Cup success
Of course, Germany's victory in China last September was far from a surprise, and Neid had previously spent nine successful years as assistant to Tina Theune-Meyer, winning three UEFA European Women's Championships and the 2003 World Cup. When Theune-Meyer stepped down after UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™, Neid – who collected 111 caps, scoring 48 goals, as a player – was the natural choice to succeed, in both sense of the world.
Now the focus is on defending the European title in Finland next summer, and with five wins out of five in qualifying, Germany are all but in the finals. Neid is keen for the team, unbeaten since 1999 in major tournaments, to keep on improving. "We can't afford to lose our motivation – we are the team that everyone wants to beat, so that should give us sufficient incentive to stay at the top of our game," Neid told uefa.com. "My goal is to keep us established at the top, among the best teams in the world, and that is a difficult enough task."
The first test was passed though, Germany cruising to another World Cup in China. "To win a title like that, the players need to be aware of fundamental tactical principles, and you obviously need to be united and committed as a team," Neid explained. "I was fortunate in that we had very good preparation for the World Cup, and were together for a while before the tournament began. This helped us blend together and I was able to get my philosophy across to the players."
If 25 years of investment in women's football has brought Germany to their dominant position, Neid has been involved as player or coach for most of that time. She knows how difficult it is to manage the transition from one generation to the next. "In Germany we take great care in nurturing talented players," she said. "You have to prevent a situation where the older players finish playing, and you're left then just with young players. It's important to have a smooth transition."
There is a real target for any youngsters who do not make the 2009 squad, as two years later Germany will host the World Cup for the first time, which the coach also suggests will be an incentive for the veterans. "We're delighted to have been given the tournament, and I think we have also contributed to being awarded the World Cup by winning the competition," Neid said. "Some of our players, who might have considered stopping in a couple of years' time, may now feel they have a new goal to aim for, and would like to experience the World Cup again."
This is an edited version of an article from the uefa.com Magazine. To read it in full, click here.