TThere were so many hurdles in Team GB’s football success in Tokyo that their supporters would be forgiven if they were pessimistic about the team’s medal chances. On Tuesday, July 27th, they will play their last game in the group stage against Canada and keep their fingers crossed that it will not be their last game of the tournament.

It was a success to get this far. It was not easy to agree on the existence of the team beyond London 2012 among the home nations, and therefore there was no team in Rio 2016. Not only has the pandemic prolonged the absence of a Team GB women’s soccer team, it has also resulted in plans being torn apart and starting from scratch over and over again. There is chaos.

Former English manager Phil Neville had been tasked with leading Team GB at the Games and then the Lionesses to a home European championship in 2021, but both tournaments were postponed to cut his time. He was still expected to be featured as the Team GB manager, but when David Beckhams called Inter Miami, he changed his mind. The FA turned to Norway’s former Olympic, European and World Champion Hege Riise, whom they had hired as a temporary assistant coach.

The preparations were complicated. Team GB has not played a competitive or friendly match for nine years. World Player of the Year Lucy Bronze has taken a nice turn joking that she was unbeaten in nine years, but the reality is that 19 of the 22 players who travel to Tokyo are England internationals but England are only in 2021 Has played three times Compare this to the preparations of the world champions, the USA, who played 12 games in 2021 to prepare for the games. The vice world champion Netherlands and the bronze medalist Sweden have each played six times. Team GB’s group opponents Japan, Canada and Chile played five, seven and four times respectively.

It has been confirmed that the four reserve players that each of the 12 teams will bring to Tokyo will be eligible for matchday squads. The addition of the four additional players will be welcome, but Team GB’s decision to fill the reserve list with young players – albeit very talented players who could legitimately claim a direct squad spot – now appears to have been a mistake with players like Arsenal midfielder Jordan Nobbs, Chelsea striker Beth England and Manchester City full-back Alex Greenwood missing out on the 18-man squad and the youth preferring to travel in reserve to gain much-needed tournament experience.

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Despite all of this, there will be optimism and hope. Team GB’s group is tough, but with a win against Chile in the opening game for eight of the twelve teams, they are in a good starting position. Japan followed on Saturday before today’s meeting with Canada.

Most eyes will be on Group G, where the US will face Sweden, who were eliminated in the 2016 quarter-finals, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Team GB are going to need a huge helping of the luck they’ve missed the last two years and it has to happen quickly, but there is a talent in the squad to do something special. Even if things go wrong, the effects of the past year and a half on preparations cannot be overlooked.