Glorious Failure YET AGAIN for an England National Team – Wednesday 1st July 2015, the Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Canada – England’s Womens Team are in the ascendancy of the World Cup semi-final striving for the winner against the holders Japan. Unfortunately for them luck was not on their side as in the last minute of stoppage time their Japanese opponents broke away which ended in a cruel own goal being scored by Laura Bassett one of the Lionesses best players throughout the tournament as a whole. A horrible and devastating way to go out, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Its ironic that their best performance of the competition ended in defeat – a crucial and harsh lesson that you need to take your chances as there are fine margins between potential glory and ending up empty handed – they will not be the first or last team to experience the feeling. For the record, the Lionesses finished third after defeating their German counterparts (for the first time) in the 3rd/4th place play-off match – history made across the board for England at World Cup 2015.
NEW MANAGER – NEW SPIRIT – NEW STYLE
Mark Sampson has done a wonderful job since taking over in 2013 following the debacle at that years European Championships. He may not have the best players in terms of quality in the world but has moulded a fantastic team spirit and has a pool of players who always give 100% and play for the shirt – which has manifested itself with England’s best ever showing at a Womens World Cup. After a slow (and lets be honest poor start especially with some strange tactics) to the tournament against the French which ended in a disappointing 1-0 defeat – there was steady improvement with four successive 2-1 victories, where somebody always stepped up to the plate to get them over the line before the semi-final heartbreak. The match versus Japan was a slow burner lit up by two dubious penalty awards (the officiating generally at the World Cup has been erractic – and that’s being generous) before the Lionesses took control in the second half and should really have taken the lead after creating a number of chances – then comes the OG, so late and that’s it!!!!!!! England were building momentum (just like Japan had done with a quarter final victory over the then holders, Germany, in the 2011 World Cup) and if they had have got through the belief would have been even stronger and they may well have emulated the Japanese to put a new name on the Womens World Cup. Alas it was not to be. For the record the USA won the tournament for the third time in their history.
The key now for England is how to build upon this. As great a performance this has been for Sampson’s team they will need to continue with this good form. For me as we stand they are the third best team in Europe (behind Germany and France) and if you look on a World stage, the USA are ahead but you could argue they are at the same level as all the other teams in the world if not better. The opportunity is there now for the real promotion of womens football whilst it is at the forefront of the sporting agenda as we stand and it is now up to the FA and the National team to push on and raise the profile of the womans game in this country. The next major challenge for Mark Sampson’s squad is the the 2017 European Championships in the Netherlands. Qualification is a minimum (a trip to Estonia in September starts it off) as is a progression deep into the tournament – they cannot use the underdogs tag anymore.
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