Team GB receive testing football group draw for London 2012
Stuart Pearce and Hope Powell's sides both face tough group fixtures at Olympics
Hope Powell’s women’s side will kick off the 2012 Olympic Games, and have today learned their opponents will be New Zealand in a Millennium Stadium clash on 25 July.
In what is a tough group, Powell’s charges will also square off against Cameroon and Brazil, and the coach, who is also in charge of the England national side, is wary of the threats each team can pose.
“Brazil will be a great game at Wembley, they are always there or thereabouts in major tournaments. We played New Zealand in the World Cup last year and it was a very tough encounter. Cameroon are an unknown quantity,” she told BBC Sport.
Powell is hopeful that the Olympic games can provide a terrific platform to showcase women’s football, and with the event being hosted on home soil, a positive Team GB performance could lead to the increased participation that she craves.
Meanwhile, the men’s side will kick off their campaign in a tricky Old Trafford tie with Senegal on 26 July.
Stuart Pearce’s men will also face fixtures against United Arab Emirates and 2010 World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay in their attempts to progress.
Pearce will be allowed to select three players over the age of 23 for his squad, and David Beckham is likely to be the highest-profile player to take part in the tournament.
“The addition of three over-age players can contribute to a really strong side. It will be tough, tournament football always is. Everyone in the squad will have star quality but I’ll pick the squad on merit,” Pearce told BBC Sport.
“The squad may not reflect every home nation and celebrity, but they will be the best 18 players who have the best opportunity to deliver a gold. That’s my only criteria.”