The wait is over! The Women’s World Cup is here and what a start it’s been. Unpredictable doesn’t even cover it. 8 nations make their debut this world cup, which just adds to the unpredictability as there is no reference point to how they may perform on a world stage. Nothing has illustrated this more than Nigeria v Canada and England v Haiti.
Honestly, I don’t think England played their best football BUT I also - just by comments on socials - I think many fans underestimated Haiti. I’ve seen all kinds of semi-racist rhetoric and usually I don’t even get into it on social media because I honestly don’t give a shit about keyboard warriors but I saw one comment bashing the Lionesses for not being able to beat a squad of women who “run around muddy fields once a week”. Obviously I had to reply and ask the person where they got the idea the Haitian players were running round muddy fields once a week, when the majority of them play for French teams and a handful in the US. Obviously there was a racial bias among some fans who just saw a black team making their debut and immediately thought they must be amateur. I mean, it is what it is.
I don’t think Sarina and the squad underestimated Haiti, I just don’t think they played their best game or were prepared for the intensity Haiti would bring and many fans were pissed because they were expecting Haiti to be shit and England to walk all over them. In my eyes, especially in tournament football, a win is a win. Really that’s all that matters in the tournament. We got the 3 points and so we move. The game highlighted weaknesses and things to work on and Sarina isn’t stupid, they have 6 days to work on these things before facing Denmark.
It’s also difficult because everyone is comparing this squad to the Euro squad and it’s not that squad. Injuries and retirees have meant Sarina has had to make a lot of changes resulting in a predominantly inexperienced squad compared to a year ago. I’ve also noticed a lot of people I’ve talked to are using a nation's men’s team as a reference point to the same nation's women's teams performance ie Argentina men won the world cup therefore they expect the women to be on that level. You would have hoped so but the reality of women's football highlights that disparity. The inequality of funding, pay, facilities etc… England women I believe are one of the few countries who share facilities with their men’s team. I remember hearing a story about Sarina Weigman being at St George’s Park when she first took over and being told a certain pitch was the men’s pitch and she said the women would be using it now. Boss.
Anyway, it will be very interesting to see how the tournament progresses and how the so called ‘big’ teams fare against their debutante counterparts. I’m here for it. Everyone is banging on about how well the USA are going to do and I’m calling it, they’re not going to do well. Controversial opinion I know and sorry to my US brethren but I’m just saying. This current US team is very transitional. All the star players from teams of yore are getting older and a bit like the England team are lacking in experience in big tournaments. This isn’t to say they’re going to perform terribly but comparable to the Team USA that women’s football fans know, the 4 times world cup winning, “We believe that we will will” singing… that Team USA? This ain’t it. I was discussing it with my Pops and he was like “Yeh, but they have Rapinoe!” Please. Rapinoe is a year younger than me! You putting all your hopes on a 38 year old playing against people, the majority of who ain’t sitting down and letting out a sigh (I’m not sure when that shit starts because it creeps up on you like a ninja but somewhere around 35/36 sitting down and standing up come with a sound effect) For me, if anyone is going to shine it’s going to be Sophia Smith. She’s dope but she’s lacking the experience which may or may not affect her performance but we’ll see.
As for other stand out players for me it’s gotta be LJ. I’m surprised she didn’t start the Haiti game but I can see the thought process behind it; save her and bring her on in a super sub type scenario. I dunno though, some players aren’t built to be subs - super or otherwise - some players are just starters and for me LJ is one of them. Hopefully we’ll see her starting at some point, especially without Beth Mead and England's other strikers going through a bit of a drought at the moment, in LJ I trust.
Is football coming home? I dunno but it's definitely got a ticket and sat in the departure lounge…