SPORTS

British women's team still savoring first win in football tournament

07/27/2012 11:24 EDT | Updated 09/26/2012 05:12 EDT
CARDIFF, Wales - The British women's football team is still enjoying all the attention received for winning the first match played in the 2012 London Games.

Although the team is already on the eve of its second match, the players remain overwhelmed by all the support they received after the historic 1-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday, which was also the first ever for a British women's squad.

Players said they experienced a completely new feeling when they woke up and saw their faces splashed across the newspapers filled with headlines praising their achievement.

Midfielder Anita Asante said she got to see herself where she would normally see some of her heroes like David Beckham and other sports stars like Serena Williams and Venus Williams when they are playing in Wimbledon.

"It was really amazing to see our faces on the front pages and the back pages, it's not something we encounter every day," she said Friday. "Usually we are looking at our own heroes in sports on those pages."

Coach Hope Powell said it was important for the team to recognize the importance of their victory so her staff laid out all the papers for the players to see the morning after the victory.

"It was fantastic," she said. "They were on the front pages, the middle pages, the back pages. That's unprecedented, they've never experienced that before."

Powell had already called her players "history makers" after the win.

Britain had never put together a women's football team before this year's Olympics. In addition, the match in Cardiff, Wales, marked the unofficial opening of the London Games.

Asante was the player who actually got it going with the first touch of the ball at kick off.

"I think it's only after the fact you can recognize what that means and how it felt," Asante said. "I just rolled the ball forward ... but it was an incredible feeling that I'm going to look back on it and (say) 'Wow, what an experience.'"

Players also praised the atmosphere and the fan support they got at the Millennium Stadium. They celebrated the win with a lap around the field to thank the nearly 25,000 supporters who showed up.

Defender Stephanie Houghton scored the winner off a free kick in the 64th minute, moving Britain atop Group E along with 2008 silver medallist Brazil, which routed Cameroon 5-0 in its opener. The top two teams will automatically advance past the group stage, along with the two best third-place nations.

Britain will face Cameroon on Saturday, again in Cardiff, and Powell is expected to field the same 11 from the opener despite what she called "a battle" under scorching heat against a "very tough" New Zealand team.

"Everybody is fit," she said.

Powell also downplayed the fact that Scottish players Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke didn't sing "God Save the Queen" before the opening match and will not ask them to sing it ahead of the game against Cameroon.

"The fact that they are here representing Team GB should say it all," Powell said.

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