England return home this week just over a month after the highs and lows of the World Cup. Such is the nature of football that no sooner have you completed one tournament then new challenges await. This time, it’s in the form of the Nations League with a derby against Scotland on Friday providing ample opportunity to brush away the cobwebs and the pain of that Final in Sydney.
A busy international period awaits for the Home Nations and Republic of Ireland. The senior teams all get their Nations League campaigns underway. Meanwhile, there are a series of friendlies taking place across the youth levels.
The new international season is underway. This September break sees the inaugural Nations League, CONCACAF Olympic Qualification and qualifying for WAFCON + the CONCACAF W Gold Cup plus the Asian Games amongst others. There are also a series of friendlies across the age levels.
Brisbane was the stage for an edgy night as England narrowly avoided elimination against Nigeria. It took a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out for the Lionesses, reduced to ten after Lauren James saw red, to eventually see off a spirited Nigeria and reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
Expect the unpredictable seems to be the new mantra for Sarina Wiegman’s side. After a vivacious performance in front of a partisan Adelaide crowd, the Lionesses progressed to the Round of 16 in style with a 6-1 victory over China. A brace from Lauren James and goals from Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly completed the rout. The Chinese pulled a goal back through a controversially awarded penalty that Wang Shuang duly converted.
“I just really want to win. We want to be the best; I want to be the best. That is what motivates me,” England manager Sarina Wiegman says as she sits down to chat to the traveling media on the Sunshine Coast. “What gives me energy is working with a team. We have so many talented players and my job is to get clarity on how we play together… And then it’s to get players connected, because that’s why team sports are so nice. If you get connected, you understand each other really well… that gives me energy.”
With preparations for this summer’s showpiece World Cup gathering steam, there are friendlies taking place around the world over the next few weeks. The OFC U19 Championships are also taking place as well as the Central American + Caribbean Games
With just 50 days until the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, Sarina Wiegman has named her 23-player England squad ahead of the trip to Australia. Bethany England returns to the fold, while six players – Esme Morgan, Niamh Charles, Katie Zelem, Laura Coombs, Lauren James and Katie Robinson – will be part of a major tournament for the first time.
England’s U17s progressed to the semi-finals of the European Championships thanks to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Sweden. In front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Tartu Tamme Staadion, Arsenal’s Michelle Agyemang continued her strong scoring form with a brace. Leicester’s Ava Baker added a third to send Mo Marley’s side through to the knockouts with one game to spare.
Legacy – it is a word that is bandied around a lot in sport. A buzzword, one used with increasing frequency around the hosting of major tournaments. Its definition is sometimes uncertain and how you measure it unclear.
However, with the government’s landmark announcement this morning that every girl in England will be given equal access to football and school sport, that meaning is finally clear. This is really what legacy looks like!