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28 October 2014

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You are in: London > Radio > 94.9 Presenters > Drivetime > Women's World Cup diary

Anjana with Katie Chapman

Anjana with Katie Chapman

Women's World Cup diary

BBC London 94.9's Drivetime reporter Anjana Gadgil is in China for the Women's World Cup. She'll be filing regular updates on how England are doing

Entry 8

I felt mixed emotions watching England beat Argentina in Chendgu on Monday night. Sure, the girls had just got themselves to a quarterfinal against the USA in Tianjin on Saturday, but I'll be watching it on the telly. I'm leaving Shanghai tonight and will be back with the Drivetime team tomorrow.

It was a weird game to watch. Argentina were terrible and gifted England the first two goals: one a header from their captain with no England player in sight; for the second, the keeper couldn't be bothered to dive. It looked like they were mentally already on the plane home.

But for all that, England didn't capitalise. They had countless chances, but Eni Aluko, Alex Scott and Rachel Yankey all miscued or mis-aimed and they went in only two-up at half-time. You can always rely on Kelly Smith to finish though, two from her and two penalties made it six at the end.

All the girls were overjoyed - with just one reservation.  If they didn't qualify they'd would have had time for a trip to the panda sanctuary. But there's no time for excursions when there's a semi-final to reach - so they'll have to make do with Yolanda the Panda, their mascot,

We went to the team hotel afterwards to celebrate and again admired the players' discipline; no one stayed up even a minute beyond curfew. The journalists and FA staff had no one to keep them in check though, so I only got a few hours sleep before flying back to Shanghai.

England women's team in China

There was torrential rain on my arrival, and there's a typhoon brewing outside as I write. This could mean I find myself stranded in Shanghai .... so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Entry 7

What a result! England were magnificent in last night's match against Germany, at times outplaying the defending champions and at all times stifling their attacks.

And yet again the Arsenal girls produced the outstanding performances. Club and country captain Faye White was player of the game, while Anita Asante was unflappable alongside her. Katie Chapman was like a rottweiler - it's hard to believe how sweet she is off the pitch - while Karen Carney and Kelly Smith worked their magic in attack.

And who said girls don't make good goalkeepers? Everton's Rachel Brown was a colossus.

There was a party atmosphere among the families and friends back at the team hotel. It was great to see Hope enjoying a glass of wine after her canny tactics secured the draw. No drinks for the girls though: they're under strict instructions to stay focused for the next game, against Argentina here in Chengdu in Western China

Victory by two clear goals will get them into the quarterfinals. And that's a result they think they can achieve.

But it's hot in Chengdu, hotter than Shanghai. So hopefully the fortnight spent acclimatising in Macau will prove its worth. And for spectators: well, there's a tea house with a shady garden opposite my hotel, so I'm going to sit there and contemplate football.

Entry 6

I'm writing this from the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai where a feast of football is about to take place. The warm-up act is Japan v Argentina, then England take on defending champions Germany - a team they haven't beaten in 16 attempts.

Rationally speaking Germany will win this game, beat Japan on Monday and win the group. They were in awesome form putting eleven goals past the Argentinians in their opening group game. England were also quite brilliant against Japan on Tuesday - but  in comparison, they missed almost eleven chances.  And that could be their downfall. Emotionally speaking though ... we are so gonna whip 'em!

Things are exciting off the pitch too. Kelly Smith (England legend) got a very public slap on the wrist from manager Hope Powell yesterday for Tuesday's goal celebrations.

She kissed her boots after scoring both goals in a perfect piece of product placement, which Hope described as disrespectful and inappropriate. "She won't be doing that again," she said.

There's also been talk of smoke and mirrors. 2-way mirrors in fact. The Denmark team say they had to expel two men who were taking notes at a private training session.

Then back at the hotel during a team talk - someone made a joke about the mirror, so they sent someone round to check.

And sure enough, the same two men were standing there. They're lodged a comlaint with Fifa, so we'll see what comes out of that one. But for anyone who thinks women's football is dull - please think again!

Entry 5

Watching football in Shanghai is completely diffferent to watching football in London, especially watching women's football.

Firstly I ran around town trying to find a bar that was showing the China-Denmark game - all the sports bars were showing the rugby(?!). Then I had to persuade the barstaff to turn down the cheesy house and turn up the TV volume as the atmosphere at the game was phenomenal.

Two other journalists, Anna and Jonathan, were on their way out to meet me.
But they suffered a case of taxi-driver-won't-admit-he-doesn't-know-where-he's going syndrome, which is a common complaint in this city.

So they missed all the first half and most of the second, but the two late goals more than made up for it - especially China's winner.

England team in China

The England team in China

Whilst I waited for them I got chatting to the barstaff. I was expecting people to be a lot more interested but the girls working in the bar seemed keener on filing their nails and grabbing twenty winks than supporting their national team.

Unlike in London, football and beer don't go hand-in-hand so most people would have watched it at home, but still, the Hongkou Stadium's missing a trick in hosting the England team but not having a bar ....

There's no football tonight, but I'm going to go and chat to some of the girls at their hotel. Its the BIG one tomorrow against Germany and I want to know if they're handling their nerves as badly as I am.

Entry 4

(filed 12th September 2007)

I guess a point's a point but it felt like a defeat. In the 92nd minute with England leading 2-1 thanks to two late goals in two minutes from the superb Kelly Smith, you think you might have it won.

But when England conceded a stupid free kick just outside the box and Aya Miyama stepped up having already scored from the exact same position; everyone in the stadium knew what was going to happen. And it did.

So after thanking all their travelling fans, a very dejected England team left the pitch.

But England shouldn't have been reliant on Kelly's late goals to win it.

They dominated from start to finish and created more chances than I've been eating baozi. (Chinese steamed dumplings).

Kelly and fellow Arsenal team mates Faye White, Karen Carney, Rachel Yankey had all had gilt-edged chances to score and Chelsea's Eni Aluko had somehow missed an open goal at the end of the first half.

Manager Hope Powell and man of the match/girl of the game Kelly were asked about these wasted chances at the press conference. Hope said she has faith in her team's ability to score and that they'd had no problems in training.

Still, I think some shooting practice and defending from set pieces might be top of the agenda at tonight's training session.

Now it's all about getting a result against Germany on Friday which is a tall order. But Kelly, Karen and Casey Stoney all all say it's possible - so I'm choosing to believe them rather than what I've seen from the football over the past two nights.

I don't have to travel out to the stadium tonight as there's no match in Shanghai. But the hosts China start their campaign against Denmark in Wuhan so I've decided to savour the atmosphere from a pub instead. Purely for journalistic purposes, of course...

Entry 3

(filed 11 September 2007)

The football's started! And started in style for defending champions German - they made absolute mincemeat of Argentina last night. 11-0 and with two of the goals from an Argentinian. But they weren't goals from the hand of God, but from the fumbling hands of the Argentinian goalkeeper.

All the British journalists groaned when the first one went in, because the opening goal for the Women's World Cup is going to be shown on TV and provides ammunition to people who think the game is a joke.

We all started preparing ourselves for the inevitable questions; which inevitably I was asked when I spoke to Crofty on BBC London 94.9 last night.

Yes, it was a record defeat in a Women's World Cup game, and yes, it was clearly a mismatch. But you get mismatches in plenty of international sport.

The rugby world cup: Australia 91 -3 Japan. The 2002 men's football world
cup: Germany 8-0 Saudi Arabia. And on the plus-side - at least England stand a good chance of beating them in their final group game in Chengdu.

Which brings me on to the important stuff - it's England v Japan tonight and the England girls are  raring to go. They're not talking to journalists today but I've had a look at some of their Facebook pages and they're full of messages of support and wallposts wishing each other the best of luck.

They've never played Japan so there's no rivalry there; at least there was none until one of the Japanese girls made some disparaging comments about the team. And if the girls needed anything more to spur then on - then that was it.

Last night's match was almost a sell out - and this one's bound to be full. There's a lot of English people in Shanghai and a lot of Chinese who are into English football through the Premier League. Come on England!

Entry 2

The birth of the Haps
(filed 10 September 2007)

Shanghai is a massive city, loads of people and loads of traffic. The population's supposedly 17 million but local people say it's more like 20-22 million.

If you go to the railway station you can believe it; there's always hundreds of disorientated-looking people with big bags sitting outside having just arrived from the country.

But all that traffic means getting around town is tricky. England's training ground is about an hour away down the Shanghai equivalent of the M4. It also has M4-rush-hour-type traffic on it at all hours of the day.

The team are ok as their bus has a police escort to rush them through but us journalists can't keep up. The plus-side is that my colloquial Chinese is coming on in leaps and bounds spending so much time chatting to cab drivers.

The Hongkou stadium is on the other side of town - it's a bit like driving from Loftus Road to Upton Park. They were supposed to get a run out on it this evening but they were told late last night that they couldn't.

Apparently there's sand underneath the grass and the officials don't want it messed up before Monday's opening match.  Manager Hope Powell has planned everything meticulously and was not impressed. But the girls still went to have a look at it today; it's a 30,000-seater and it should be near full for the Japan game on Tuesday.

The families arrived yesterday too. Arsenal's Katie Chapman was chomping at the bit to see her four-year-old Harvey. She's got a webcam set up in her room so she can see him and talk to him, but, even so, 6 weeks is a long time for a mum to be away. Arsenal team-mate Mary Phillip is in the same situation - she's got two kids. So there were a lot of happy faces around the team hotel today - and a lot more men.

We've already coined a term for the Husbands and Partners. The HAPs. 

Although it may be more a case of the HAP-nots as the girls really don't get paid very much. Still, I'm hoping to catch up with some of the HAPS tomorrow - so any news of shopping, champagne and dancing on the table can be read here first.

Entry 1

(filed September 7 2007)

I wish I'd brought my football boots!

I went to watch an England training session in Shanghai yesterday and it was just as slick and professional as you would expect from a side about to play in an opening World Cup match.

But when it was time to play 11-a-side they were three short. The squad's 21-strong and Chelsea's Casey Stoney and Arsenal's Anita Asante are carrying injuries.

So this was the chance for Hampstead Women's Anjana Gadgil (me!), from the Greater London Women's League Division Two (North), to impress manager Hope Powell and maybe, maybe get a Roy of the Rover's style opportunity at the World Cup.

Except I don't often take my studs and shinpads on holiday.

So ignoring my protests that I play just as well in flip-flops, Hope rounded up some coaching staff  and a journalist from the Shanghai English Language paper who'd turned up fully kitted out. What a nerd. And his triumphant run-out under the floodlights ended my dreams.

But aside from the nerd, England are looking good. They're all saying they've never felt so fit and the teams spirit's fantastic. They're staying in an uber-plush hotel in the west side of Shanghai and they have a police escort to and from the training ground.

They're not allowed out much though, Hope's keeping them under a tight rein.
But I managed to nip outside with Anita and her Arsenal team-mate Alex Scott for some filming in the street. I taught them a few sentences in Mandarin and they were off. Charming all the locals.

I'm going to interview another Arsenal girl now, Katie Chapman. She's one of the two squad members who have children so it'll be interesting to see how she's coping being away from the family.

And after that I might pop into a sports shop....

Off to China

(filed 5/9/07)

I'm chucking in the day job with the Drivetime team and going to China for a couple of weeks. I'm going to follow the England Women's football team as they take part in their first World Cup for 12 years.

The girls have been at a training camp in Macau in southern China for the past few weeks, but they arrived in Shanghai on Monday to be met by crowds of Chinese fans and journalists.

They're playing two matches in Shanghai; against Japan on Sunday and a mouthwatering tie against the World and European Champions (not to mention age-old rivals) Germany next Wednesday.

They then fly a few thousand miles to Chengdu in western China for their final group game against Argentina.

For most of the girls it's their first trip to China - but I've been there a few times before having studied Chinese at university.

So as well as supporting the team, I'll be brushing up on my Mandarin and maybe give the girls a few language lessons . . . And with the Beijing Olympics just around the corner it'll be interesting to see how the Chinese cope with holding a big sporting event. 

I'll be sending back photos and update - so keep logging on to this page.

last updated: 19/09/07

You are in: London > Radio > 94.9 Presenters > Drivetime > Women's World Cup diary


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