Olympics on backburner as Brown keeps focus on England

First published in London Olympics 2012 - Latest News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Blackburn Rovers reporter

RACHEL Brown will know whether her Olympic dream is going to be realised in less than a fortnight – but for the moment she is focusing fully on England’s Euro goal.

The Burnley-born goalkeeper is hoping to be between the posts for tomorrow’s crucial Euro 2013 qualifier against group leaders Holland at Salford as she looks to complete a memorable double over the next couple of weeks.

England’s women are over half way through their European Qualifying Campaign and, trailing to the Dutch by five points with a game in hand, know a win tomorrow is crucial to keep their hopes alive.

Only the winners automatically qualify for Sweden 2013 with the runners-up taking part in play-offs in October – leaving Brown in no doubt about the importance of the clash.

The 31-year-old was included on the provisional list for selection for Team GB in the Olympics and, with the final squad due to be announced on June 26, is dreaming of playing a big role in London 2012.

But, for the moment at least, she is putting her summer plans on the back burner as she looks to reach her sixth major finals.

She said: “At the moment, none of us are particularly thinking about the Olympics because we have a job to do with England against Holland first.

“The Olympic squad is named on June 26 and of course we are all hoping we get named in that but that can wait, because the games we have coming up with England are huge.

“Once we do our job here, and hopefully get the win we need, then the nerves and anticipation can set in about the Olympics.

“It is something we all want to be involved in, of course we do, but we also want to make sure England qualify for Euro 2013.”

England reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup in 2011 in Germany and the Final of the last European championships in 2009.

They are currently ranked 9th in the world by FIFA and Brown knows booking their place in the Sweden finals next summer is vital.

She said: “I have been involved when we have not made major championships. It has only been the last eight to 10 years when we have started to regularly make the big tournaments.

“Not qualifying for Euro 2013 would be a massive backward step. It is important for the continued development of the women’s game in this country that we make the tournament.

“Hopefully we can get a big crowd behind us at Salford to help us make that next step we are all looking for.”

Brown added: “The difference is tomorrow Holland know they just need to avoid a defeat whereas we have to go for the win.

“Everything has been positive. We beat them narrowly in the European Championships semi finals four years ago.

“It is absolutely massive playing for your country. Most England players would tell you that and if you got to the stage when you didn’t feel like that, maybe it is time to call it a day.

“This could be the last major championships for a lot of us.”

Tickets are priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions. To purchase, simply call the Salford City Stadium Ticket Hotline on 0844 888 0200.

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