Great Britain got an invaluable warm-up win under their belt on Wednesday afternoon when they beat New Zealand 3-0 in a ‘behind closed doors’ friendly ahead of the women’s football tournament at the Olympics, which kicks off in just a weeks’ time.
Team GB haven’t played an official match since the 2012 Olympics, and were denied the chance to have a practice game against Zambia last month when the scheduled friendly had to be cancelled last minute over concerns relating to coronavirus.
Their opening game of the tournament is a Group E clash against Chile next Wednesday and so it was vital to have the chance to play a warm-up game of any sort against a competitive opponent.
New Arsenal signing Nikita Parris scored two of the goals, with Manchester City star Ellen White getting the other in what was ultimately a comfortable win for the GB squad.
There are four survivors from the 2012 squad in the current group - Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Kim Little and the aforementioned White - but most of the players are at least familiar with each other despite the unique nature of being a squad compiled of multiple national teams.
The majority of the 22 players selected are England internationals who have trained and played together at international level before, while only one doesn’t play club football in the WSL. Those that aren’t English - Caroline Weir, Sophie Ingle and Kim Little - also find themselves surrounded by clubmates from Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal respectively.
After facing Chile next Wednesday, which actually takes place before the Olympic opening ceremony renders the Games officially ‘open’, Team GB’s second match is against hosts Japan three days later. They then finish the group stage with a clash with Canada on 27 July.
The top two countries in each of the three groups automatically progress to the knockout stages, with the two best third place teams also going through. From there it is a straight knockout tournament, with medals to be decided in the final and third place playoff in August.
As hosts, Great Britain were eliminated by Canada at the quarter-final stage back in 2012. But the standard of British women’s football has increased considerably in an international context since then and a medal of any colour is now a genuine expectation and arguably a minimum target.