England defeat sours a good week for Sampson
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.
“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.
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.”
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