CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE in VANCOUVER: Mark Sampson is confident England will be able to handle the heat – from the stands as well as from the sky – when they confront Women’s World Cup hosts Canada in tonight’s quarter-final.
The match is expected to be the highest attended soccer match in Canadian history, with 55,000 tickets sold.
With a heatwave occurring in Vancouver at the moment, BC Place stadium could prove to be a stifling environment.
But England head coach Sampson was sure his players could cope, as they did in their second round tie in Ottawa when they came from behind to beat Norway 2-1.
He said: “Clearly it’s going to be a warm day, we know that and the stadium is a very intense environment you can see that from walking out on the pitch today. But we’ve experienced it. Ottawa was really hot and there was one team towards the end of that game who looked sharp physically, who looked sharp emotionally, and even got better and better as that game went on.
“So it really shows we’re in a great place physically, we’re in a great place emotionally and certainly we’ll be able to handle that heat, that’s not a concern for us based on previous experience we’ve got in this tournament.”
Sampson, who has fielded all 20 of his outfield players so far in this tournament, confirmed that the team lineup had been decided two days before the match.
But he also warned that his squad would have to be ready for things not to go their way, as he alluded to Canada’s physical style and the fact that they have mostly been the beneficiaries officials’ decisions.
“It’s a tough job being an official,” he said. “And when there is that pressure, home nation expectancy, it’s very very difficult to remain calm and make the right call and the facts are that in the group stages Canada have been awarded more fouls than their opponents in every game. So we’ll have to see how it goes tomorrow.
“We’re aware of what kind of team we’re going to face, we’re aware of the potential circumstances and whatever cards we’ve been dealt we’ll have to play our best and make sure we can manage that as best we can. But this will be an England team ready for whatever Canada throw at us.”
Winger Karen Carney who has scored twice so far in the competition believed that the game would be won from a mental point of view as well as physical.
Carney said: “It’s a bit like chess, you know your moves and you know what each other can do. I think it just boils down to who wants it the most in that individual battle on the day”.
Overnight Germany rallied late on in a thrilling encounter to beat France 5-4 on penalties after the the first quarter-final in Montreal ended 1-1 after extra-time.
Louisa Necib opened the scoring for France just after the hour mark with a deflected shot after earlier spurning a clear chance on goal.
But with less than 10 minutes of normal time remaining, Germany won a penalty after French defender Amel Majri’s arm was judged to have got in the way of Leonie Maier’s shot.
Celia Sasic converted the penalty and the game went to extra-time where the two sides could not be separated.
After four successful penalties for both teams, former world player of the year Nadine Angerer denied Lavogez to send Germany into the semi-finals for the fifth time.
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