“Something is happening, you can’t deny it,” said Mark Sampson as he sat with the press, yesterday.
“I’ve said to the players that I don’t believe in fate but something is happening with this team and in this tournament for England. We will keep believing and keep fighting and make it a blooming difficult game for Japan on Wednesday.”
I thought I might just end there. It sums it all up rather neatly. Norway was a tough game because they are a physically robust team with heaps of tournament experience, whilst the atmosphere against the hosts Canada was something else. Their desperation to win raised their performance level and they gave England a real battle.
Now England, are amongst the last four, alongside the current World Champions, Olympic Champions and European Champions. Good company to keep, don’t you think?
Japan are a fantastic football team to watch. They’ve had a fairly easy ride until now in the competition, though the exciting ‘have a go Aussies’ held them until the 84th minute in their quarter final, when the tiny but fun to watch, mazy-dribbling forward, Mana Iwabuchi popped up to score. She was one of the stars at the U17 WWC in New Zealand in 2008, but then so were Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Bronze. It was one of the greatest games I ever watched! England twice levelled late on against that Japan team in the quarter final, one in each half, with stunning strikes and prevailed on penalties. I’d take that result today, though my nerves may not survive it.
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?