The Lionesses get their campaign underway on Saturday against Haiti
England boss Sarina Wiegman vowed the Lionesses would do “everything” they can to bring home a first World Cup when they begin their campaign against Haiti in Brisbane on Saturday.
Wiegman also provided a welcome update on captain Millie Bright, who is fit to start tomorrow’s contest after concerns she was still recovering from the knee injury she sustained in March which required surgery.
The World Cup trophy is one that has so far eluded both England and Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to the final four years ago in France but fell to defeat at the hands of the United States.
Asked if England could lift the trophy this year, she said: “We’re here and we have a dream, and of course there’s always a chance to win the World Cup, and many more countries can win the World Cup I think, but of course we’re going to give our everything starting tomorrow.”
FIFA world number four England are ranked 49 places above Saturday opponents Haiti, who beat Chile in the qualifying play-off to reach a maiden World Cup.
The Lionesses are heavy favourites to top Group D, which also includes 13th-ranked Denmark and number 14 China.
Wiegman, however, was quick to dismiss the idea that facing lower-ranked opposition puts England in a position of having more to lose, perhaps more so than when they kicked off their winning Euro 2022 campaign against Austria last summer.
“The pressure is always something. Everyone expected England to win anyway. This is for tomorrow and also last year, and that was also for the Austria game for the European Championships,” she added.
“So that’s not different. What we’re just trying to do is play our game and focus on what we have to do and how we can win, and that’s basically what we do all the time, so bring it back to what actions we need to take as a team.”
Wiegman said she has “basically decided” on her starting XI for tomorrow but would not reveal whether or not the players had already been informed.
The Lionesses begin their sixth World Cup still having not come to an agreement with the Football Association over issues surrounding performance-based bonus payments and commercial structures.
On Tuesday, Bright posted a statement on Twitter on behalf of the team which said they were “disappointed that a resolution has still not been achieved” but would “pause discussions, with full intentions of revisiting them following the tournament”.
The skipper, who will wear a FIFA-sanctioned ‘Unite for Inclusion’ armband in Saturday’s contest, reiterated that those discussions are now fully parked.
“Obviously it’s not a situation everyone wants to be in, but I think as players we’re not just programmed to play football,” Bright said.
“Sometimes we have to have these conversations. But we have a very professional group and football is always at the front of everything. So as players now our heads are in the game, they always have been on the game.
“Everything is on hold with those sorts of questions. We’ll address the situation at a later date, but for now it’s all about the tournament.”
Earlier, Haiti manager Nicolas Delepine took a lighthearted stab at the Lionesses, who have not scored in their last three matches including the behind-closed-doors training game with Canada on the Sunshine Coast a week ago which ended in a goalless draw not for official records.
He told a press conference: “It’s going to be a difficult game, for sure. And if I have to talk about the strengths of England, I’ll be here all day.
“In big competitions England are tough opponents. They played well in the European Championships.
“We’re expecting a high intensity game. They are a difficult team to play against, they are attacking with threats everywhere but they maybe have a problem with finishing.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub