England Lionesses ready to pounce as FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada

Just as you thought the summer football drought was about to set in, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be kicking off in Canada today.

Beamed from six different stadiums, including the newly renovated Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa, this World Cup will see 24 nations go head-to-head for the ultimate accolade in women’s football.

With eight new entrants including Thailand, Ecuador and Cameroon, 2015 is an exciting year for women who play the beautiful game.

Three times the amount of teams who tried to qualify in 1991 have fought for a place this year.
England number three and Chelsea left back, Claire Rafferty, hopes to build on the attention gained at the Olympics.

She said: “They got behind us because we were one unit, we were one team, it wasn’t England. Athletics, badminton, football, whatever, was all one team GB. I think that was massive for us.”

The beefed up tournament now boasts 52 matches whilst other changes include a new manager in the form of Mark Sampson who took over following Hope Powell’s sacking after a dismal Euro 2013 performance.

In line with this change, the team has a whole new ethos and approach.

Rafferty said: “I would hope it is still about winning but the way we go about things is a little bit more relaxed around the camp and Mark has different managerial strategies.

“I think the group is a lot closer together and we have been working on that aspect of things quite a lot.”

Since the last World Cup and the appointment of Sampson, some of the more experienced England ladies have returned to the fold including 29-year-old midfielder Jo Potter.

The team has also welcomed the return of Chelsea’s 32-year-old Katie Chapman who took a break to have her two children.

At the other end of the spectrum, Canada will mark the first senior World Cup appearance for Lucy Bronze, Jordan Nobbs and Jade Moore.

Rafferty said: “They’ve actually got quite a lot of experience and in the younger age groups they have played in.

“They have won European Championships with the under 19’s, they’ve got a lot of qualities that will be valuable in this World Cup and I’m sure they will show them during the game.”

The opening match tonight will see host nation Canada take on China in the first game of Group A.

The one to watch here is Christine Sinclair, an experienced forward and 12-time winner of the Canada Soccer Player of the Year Award.

The Lionesses will be taking to the pitch for the first time on Tuesday 9 June in a clash against old rivals France.

England were accused of cowardice when they lost on penalties in the 2011 World Cup to the French who went on to make it through to the final four.

Ranked third in the world, France are arguably the trickiest opponents for the Lionesses in Group F.
Having beaten strong teams like Canada and the USA this year, Philippe Bergeroo’s team are among the competition favourites.

The cup is currently held by fourth ranked Japan who took the trophy in Germany after a 3 – 1 win on penalties against the USA.

With more games than ever, across five different time zones, not to mention the new artificial pitches, this World Cup is more unpredictable than ever. Come on England!

All of the games of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 will be broadcast by the BBC. You can catch the first England game on June 9 at 6pm BST live on BBC 2.

Image courtesy of the BBC via YouTube, with thanks

Related Articles