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Fifa Women’s World Cup: England v Haiti preview – Millie Bright on opening game

England players at Brisbane Stadium
England players walked around Brisbane Stadium on Friday night before their opening match
Hosts: Australia and New Zealand Dates: 20 July-20 August
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Millie Bright, the captain of the Lionesses, expressed that her team has been eagerly anticipating the start of their Women’s World Cup campaign as England gets ready to face Haiti in their opening match.

As the European champions, England will kick off their Group D campaign at Brisbane Stadium on Saturday at 10:30 BST. In addition to Haiti, they will also face Denmark and China in their group.

England is eager to win their first Women’s World Cup, while Haiti is making their debut in the tournament.

Bright commented, “Knowing that we play tomorrow is even more exciting. Everyone has been itching for the tournament to officially begin. We’re all raring to go. The girls were all watching the [opening night] games, and the excitement levels are really high.

“We’re just counting down the hours for ourselves.”

Manager Sarina Wiegman, who led England on a 30-game unbeaten run before their defeat against Australia in April, is aiming to reach her second consecutive World Cup final after being a finalist with the Netherlands in 2019.

“We are here with a dream. Of course, there is always a chance to win the World Cup, and I believe many more countries can win it,” she added.

“But, of course, we are going to give our everything – starting tomorrow.”

‘Pressure is Always on England’

Sarina Wiegman
England has had only one defeat in 32 matches under manager Sarina Wiegman

England, ranked fourth in the world, is considered one of the favorites in the tournament. However, they face tough competition from the United States, who are aiming to be the first nation to win three successive titles.

This tournament hosted by Australia and New Zealand comes a year after England’s victory in the home European Championship, their first major trophy in women’s football.

“The pressure is always on England. Everyone expects England to win anyway – that was also the case last year – and that hasn’t changed,” said Wiegman.

The build-up to England’s opening game has been dominated by off-pitch news, including Bright’s choice of Fifa-sanctioned armbands and player frustration regarding negotiations with the Football Association over performance-related bonuses.

Notable absences from the squad include Euro 2022 captain Leah Williamson, Ballon d’Or runner-up Beth Mead, and Chelsea playmaker Fran Kirby, who are all ruled out due to injury.

There were concerns about defender Bright’s fitness following knee surgery in April, but Wiegman confirmed that she is “absolutely ready to go” for the match against Haiti.

“Unfortunately, injuries are part of football, and we have to move forward,” said Bright. “I believe we have an amazing group of players and staff – everyone has stepped up. We’re raring to go.”

‘They Have a Problem with Scoring’

Nicolas Delepine
A year after joining Haiti, Nicolas Delepine guided them through qualification to their first World Cup

Wiegman mentioned that England has left no stone unturned in their preparation for the match against Haiti, who are ranked 49 places lower in the world rankings. This will be the first competitive meeting between the two teams as Haiti qualified for their first World Cup.

Although England is a good attacking side, they have not scored in their last three games, including a goalless behind-closed-doors World Cup warm-up match with Canada,” said Delepine.

However, Wiegman expressed her trust in her players to deliver in Saturday’s opener despite recent underwhelming performances, including a goalless draw with Portugal.

“They know exactly how we want to play, what we want to do. I just hope that now we are ready, we still have some meetings, but the game plan is ready,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Our style of play is clear, the tasks are clear, and we go out there to hopefully shine. I hope we see a very entertaining England team that wants to attack, is aware of Haiti’s qualities, and plays with freedom.”

‘England Needs to Break the Goal Drought’

It has been unusual to see England struggling to score goals, with their drought lasting for three games now, so it is crucial for them to put that right in this match,” said Rachel Brown-Finnis, BBC Sport football expert.

“They should still get the job done and beat Haiti, who are playing in their first World Cup, but the performance might not be particularly convincing. I hope it gives England some confidence to carry forward into their upcoming matches.”

Brown-Finnis’ Prediction: 2-0



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