Wales v England women's football: England’s Welshman sets sights on ‘home’ success
Mark Sampson will lead his players against the country of his birth
It will be a proud, potentially celebratory, but also strange experience for Mark Sampson when his England women’s team play Wales in Cardiff on Thursday night. A point will secure England’s place in next year’s World Cup in Canada with a match to spare, victory will maintain a 100 per cent record in qualifying under Sampson. The England manager is, however, Welsh.
“We have been asking him which national anthem he’ll be singing,” said Alex Scott, England’s right-back. “He’s not told us yet. But while he was born in Wales we know his heart and passion is with us, and he also wants to get to the World Cup.”
England will be confident, having recently defeated the highly regarded Swedes 4-0 in Hartlepool, an eye-opening result even if it was, as Scott points out, in a friendly. “Going into that match we did not anticipate winning by four goals against one of the best sides in Europe. While the result is obviously good for confidence we have to beat teams like that in tournaments.”
England have won all eight qualifiers so far, scoring 38 goals and conceding one. This has been achieved against a backdrop of Sampson integrating new players (and recalling others who had been exiled by Hope Powell), and developing a more varied tactical approach.
Earlier in qualifying, England beat Wales 2-0 at The Den, but were held to a goalless first half. Victory was made easier after Wales’ captain Jess Fishlock suffered a broken hand. A footballing globetrotter, she will play while en route from her parent club Seattle Reign to next loan club Frankfurt (having previously played for Glasgow City and Melbourne Victory this year).
Only Wales can catch England, who are guaranteed at least second place in their group, which would earn a play-off. Wales are not, though, certain of coming second as Ukraine, who won in Belarus, could catch them. The two meet next month, probably in Kiev.
Wales v England, Cardiff City Stadium, Thursday 7.05pm. Tickets £5 (£2 conc). TV: BBC 3
Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy
Actors together in Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen's 1920s romance
Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'
Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised
Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'
Latest in Sport
Manchester United official team photo: Antonio Valencia and Anderson pull the funniest faces
F1 Singapore Grand Prix: FIA clarifies radio message allowances as Mercedes' 'it's hammer time' saying survives ban
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt, including Danny Welbeck must be more clinical and Hector Bellerin debut
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Liverpool 2 Ludogorets 1 player ratings
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Grandmas keep accidentally tagging themselves as Grandmaster Flash on Facebook