England’s Casey Stoney talks Olympic Soccer

Casey Stoney Print screen

Casey Stoney at Kick It Out event August 8, 2016. Click for video.

Reporter Asif Burhan catches up with English National Team player Casey Stoney at a recent Kick It Out event to talk Olympic soccer.

Asif Burhan, just wanted to get some quick thoughts on the Olympic Football Tournament so far; it seems like in 2011 when Japan won the World Cup it seemed like a lot of countries like Germany, France, Brazil, were almost preparing to overtake the United States in world football. Now it seems the United States is stronger and about to hit again. What would you say makes them such a good team? Can you see anyone stopping them?

“I’ve obviously watched a few of the games. I do think they can be stopped but you have to have the right mentality. I think in world football they have probably the best belief and the best mentality. They go into every game believing they would win. They go into every game thinking they will win and that’s a big difference between the best and the rest of us, because often times it’s about what’s going on up here. I’ve seen that. Have they got the most talented individuals? Don’t know, I think that’s questionable, but as a team they seem to know how to get over the line, they know how to win games. They have got world class players, and Mallory Pugh has been really, really interesting for me to watch. Her development over the last few years, I think she is superb.

I would tip them for gold, based on the facts they probably go into the tournaments as favorites. They won the World Cup last year, yes they lost a few girls since then to pregnancy and retirement, they’ll still be strong. Having said that you know I really, really think Brazil, it could be their year. Being the home nation, they’re playing well, exciting football. Seem to be playing with no fear, so it could be interesting.”

The last time I saw you play against Birmingham, you were at left back. As a defender, who would you rather not have to come up against, a flying winger like Mallory Pugh or a tricky player like Crystal Dunn?

“I think both of them, because they’re both giving you a different test. Obviously Mallory Pugh is lightening quick so you need to get yourself positioned right. Having said that, when we played in the She Believes Cup, it was Crystal Dunn that scored a fantastic goal against us. It was her turn of pace, and the way she turned on the ball and you know she had a great finish. I’d like to see both on the pitch because as wide players they take on their full backs and also force their back line back which hopefully creates space for their midfielders. “

Which players in the Olympics get you on the edge of your seat, make you want to tune into games in the middle of the night?

“I think Marta is always one. She’s exciting to watch, always has been. Mallory Pugh is one. For me I like to watch Carli Lloyd. Sometimes she can be in and out of the game but she always pops up with a goal.  I’ve really liked watching Australia as a team in terms of the way they can attack, control pace and defend very well. I thought they did really well against Germany. “

Which defenders do you admire at the moment in the world game? Anyone remind you of yourself?

“Um, no [laughing]. Wish we were there to be honest, we should be there having qualified obviously from last year’s World Cup. But, um, just trying to think. For me Sauerbrunn from the US, I think she’s a fantastic center-back. She carries the ball out well, she defends well, one to one defending, the way she reads the game. I think she’s one of the best players in the world really.”

Obviously there are no age restrictions in the women’s tournament making [the Olympics]a World Cup in all but name. Having played in London 2012 and in Canada, what are the differences in the experience and can playing outside the main host city be an advantage?

“Yah definitely, I think for me having played in two world cups, three world cups, and been at one Olympics, in women’s football Olympics is bigger. It is bigger than the Women’s World Cup. For me the experience of being around other athletes, the crowds, we played in front of 70,000 at Wembley in 2012 you know. We didn’t reach those crowds in 2015. But just being around so many different sports and watching how they prepare, learning from them. Having someone come in who’s this big [gesturing to waist]then compared to someone who is six foot eight. It was just an incredible experience. We actually started before the opening ceremony; we played in Cardiff and then obviously came to London. But just the whole experience, I think is – if anybody can go to the Olympics or have the chance to go to the Olympics it would be for me, I would say just go because it is one of the most life changing experiences you’ll have with memories that will last forever.”

*Transcribed by Megan Cleary

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