The start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada is less than two weeks away, with the anticipation building every day. The England women’s national team arrived in Toronto yesterday with high hopes for the upcoming tournament.
The Lionesses made the tournament in perfect fashion in August, winning all ten of their games, toping Group G. Now that August day seems to be years ago, with the World Cup now in the near sights.
“That seems such a long time ago,” assistant head coach Marieanne Spacey said. “The World Cup has always been there for us since then and we have just taken it one camp at a time.”
England plays Canada for one final friendly this Friday, as a last preparation for the World Cup. The game against the home team is crucial, as it will prepare them for an excited Canadian crowd.
“What we will gain from this match, perhaps more than anything tactical, is an understanding of the atmosphere and intensity of the crowd we may face during the tournament,” Spacey said.
The hopes for the World Cup is high for the English squad. With a dynamic team of seasoned vets and rookies, the team is very hopeful. In the three previous World Cups they have qualified for, the Lionesses have reached the quarter-finals every time.
“People can expect a team that is going to be ready,” Arsenal forward Lianne Sanderson said. “We have been preparing even before we qualified.”
Sanderson is one of the 23 players that were named to the squad earlier this month. Other notables include defender Alex Scott (Arsenal), midfielder Fara Williams (Liverpool), forward Toni Duggan (Manchester City), and forward Eniola Aluko (Chelsea). The team boasts eight first-time World Cup players as well as seven three-time World Cup footballers. The mix of youngsters and veterans will prove to be an interesting style of play under head coach Mark Sampson.
The 32-year-old coach took over the team in December of 2013. He has been credited to take the team into a more creative and technical side of the game.
Sampson leads the sixth-ranked team in the world to a tough group in Canada. They take on on third-ranked France in their first game on Tuesday 9 June in Moncton. The group play continues there for the English against Mexico on Saturday 13 June and then concludes in Montreal against Columbia on Wednesday 17 June. The group is a tough one, no doubt, but the players are ready for the challenge.
“If we don’t get out of the group I think people will see it as a negative thing, but we can only play against the teams we’ve been handed to in the group,” Sanderson said. “Mark and his staff give us the best opportunities to be at the best we can be. That shows in the games we’ve already played.”
If the team wins Group F, they are to play the runner-up second in Group F, which would most likely be Spain or Korea. If they come in second, the Lionesses’s would play the second place team in Group B, which could be Norway.
The final preparation for the World Cup is coming to a close, but the team is feeling more ready than ever to get the World Cup finally started.
“We arrive in Canada with most of our work done – now it’s just about the final bits of preparation ahead of that first game,” Spacey said.