Handley Backs GB Blues
Everton Ladies striker says trio can make Britain proud.
Jody Handley has backed her Everton Ladies colleagues to help Team GB in their Olympic medal hunt.
Jill Scott, Fara Williams and Rachel Brown are all set to feature in the very first event at the 2012 Games, with the opening women's football fixture against New Zealand kicking off later this afternoon.
England Head Coach Hope Powell will lead her Team GB selection out at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium - and striker Handley believes with a home crowd, the side can be challenging for a place on the podium.
"I think the cliché is that we would want to get past the group stage," Handley said.
"If they did that and get a decent draw in the quarter-finals, I think they can make at least the last four.
"Then it’s whoever performs best on the day."
Women's football was introduced as an Olympic event at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, but this year's showcase is the first time Britain have entered a side.
With the rise of the Women's Super League and increased backing for the game at grassroots level, Handley believes that the world's biggest sporting spectacle can only provide a further boost.
"It’s quite fitting that women’s football kicks off the whole campaign really," she said.
"It definitely shows how far it has come in this country. I think there was talk of it four years ago in Beijing but the British Olympic Association couldn’t manage to make that happen. So it makes it extra special that this time it’s actually on home soil."
With Scott, Brown and Williams flying the Blue flag during the competition, Handley admits her pride at the trio's call-up.
She said: "It’s massive for Everton Ladies too. The Olympic football event is quite big in the women’s football calendar, especially as it’s the first time we have ever competed as a nation.
"I’m sure that the whole of Everton Football Club is proud of the girls’ achievement and hope that they do really well."
Last week the Brits drew 0-0 with Sweden in a warm-up game ahead of the tournament, but Handley admits competitive action bears the only results that mater.
"Today’s game will be a tough one," she said. "New Zealand are quite a disciplined side and fit.
"They held the USA – one of the top sides in the world - up until the 88th-minute recently and I’m sure GB won’t be underestimating them.
"They’ll respect what they can achieve but hopefully they can get the ball down, tire them out a little bit and get the positive result they need. "
Magaye Gueye is Everton's sole male representative at the Games.
The young midfielder has been selected by Senegal and is in line to face Stuart Pearce's Team GB on Thursday at Old Trafford.