England de­feat sours a good week for Samp­son

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

ENGLAND head coach Mark Samp­son is of course de­lighted with this week’s news of his nom­i­na­tion for Fifa’s 2015 Women’s World Coach of the Year award.

But he will be even hap­pier if his team can bounce back from Fri­day’s CFA In­ter­na­tional Tour­na­ment 2-1 de­feat by host na­tion China with a win­ning per­for­mance against Aus­tralia on Tues­day.

Nom­i­nated

“It was very pleas­ing to hear about the Fifa nom­i­na­tion,” said Samp­son from England’s tour­na­ment head­quar­ters in Yongchuan. “It’s al­ways nice to be recog­nised for your work, but it’s been a group ef­fort.

“It’s me who’s been nom­i­nated, but if I get the award I’ll ac­cept it on be­half of all the play­ers and back­room staff who’ve con­trib­uted.

“But I’d have swapped the nom­i­na­tion for a win against China. It was such a dis­ap­point­ing re­sult. We com­mit­ted the car­di­nal sins of giv­ing the ball away cheaply in our own half and not tak­ing our chances at the other end.

“We could point to fac­tors like the trav­el­ling we’d un­der­taken to get here, the heat and hu­mid­ity in the sta­dium, but no ex­cuses – we didn’t de­liver.

“That per­for­mance was nowhere near what we’re ca­pa­ble of.We’ve been re­flect­ing on what went wrong, and we’ll aim to put it be­hind us and pro­duce a much bet­ter dis­play against Aus­tralia.

“They’re ranked ninth in the world, that’s six places higher than China, and so they should be tougher op­po­nents.

“We beat them 3-0 at the Cyprus Cup in March, but they looked a de­cent side and they’ve im­proved since. They had a very good World Cup, in fact they got very close to reach­ing the semi-fi­nals.”

The Matil­das went down 1-0 in a closely-fought World Cup quar­ter-fi­nal against Ja­pan, who beat England in the semi-fi­nal.

But England went on to beat Ger­many in the bronze medal match. And it was their ex­cel­lent all-round World Cup per­for­mance, af­ter win­ning the Cyprus Cup four months ear­lier, that led to Samp­son’s World Coach of the Year nom­i­na­tion.

His team have risen to fifth in the world rank­ings, England’s high­est ever plac­ing, but Samp­son is not dwelling on achieve­ments, he’s look­ing for im­prove­ments.

Rank­ings

He is set to make changes from Fri­day’s line-up for the game against Aus­tralia, and af­ter hand­ing Chelsea play­ers Gilly Fla­herty, Drew Spence and Laura Coombs their first caps against China, fur­ther de­buts could be on the cards.

Sun­der­land striker Beth Mead and Chelsea Hannah Blun­dell, both in the se­nior squad for the first time, are in con­tention and Samp­son said: “It’s nice to give play­ers de­buts, so I was pleased for Gilly, Drew and Laura on Fri­day.

“Beth and Hannah are both rar­ing to go, but we'll see who's fit and ready and then choose a team to beat Aus­tralia

“We’ve only lost two suc­ces-

games once since I’ve been head coach, and I don’t want that to hap­pen again – we have to get back on track.”

One player who will be de­lighted to turn out on Tues­day is Port­land Thorns striker Jodie Tay­lor, who hit a hat-trick in that March win against the Matil­das.

She made her first England ap­pear­ance since the World Cup as a sec­ond half sub­sti­tute against China and said: “It was great to be back with the girls and to get some game time, and hope­fully I’ll get more in the next match

“I’ve ob­vi­ously got fond mem­o­ries of that Cyprus Cup game against Aus­tralia, the goals I scored were my first for England; it was a spe­cial day.

“We de­servedly won, but Aus­tralia will be up for this and out for re­venge and we’ll have to be bet­ter than we were on Fri­day to beat them.”

PIC­TURE: The FA

WALTZ­ING THROUGH: Jodie Tay­lor scored a ha­trick against Tues­day’s op­po­nents Aus­tralia in he Cyprus Cup ear­lier his year RECOG­NI­TION: Mark Samp­son is in the run­ning for a Fifa award, but is keen to look for­ward to fu­ture suc­cess with England

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