Mark Sampson wants England to become best in Europe

Friday 03 Jul 2015
Mark Sampson has challenged his side to come home as Europe's best
Mark Sampson wants to leave Canada this weekend as head coach of the best women’s football nation in Europe.

The England boss will pitch his charges against Germany in Saturday’s World Cup third place match, following the heartbreaking semi-final defeat by holders Japan earlier this week.

The Lionesses have never beaten Euro 2013 winners Germany in 20 previous matches, including a 3-0 defeat at Wembley in November.

England v Germany

FIFA Women's World Cup
Canada 2015
Third Place Match
9pm (BST), Saturday 4 July 2015
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
Live on BBC3

But, after reaching a World Cup semi-final for the first time, Sampson wants his team to claim another piece of history at this groundbreaking tournament.

He told FATV: "I won’t have to get [the players] up for the game. They know we are playing Germany, the greatest team in the history of women’s football, in a World Cup match.

"For us this is a European final. It’s not a third/fourth-place play-off. This is our final.

"We are going to play the European champions [and] try and leave this tournament as the European champions.

"How many times in your life do you get the chance to be a genuine history maker? These players have embraced that challenge. They gave their all to try and make history, and they have, and I know for sure they are going to be desperate to do it again.

"It’s a challenge. We all saw that back in November, but this team will show how far they have come since then."

England were denied a place in the World Cup final in the agonising fashion.

They were drawing 1-1 with Japan as the clock ticked into its 92nd-minute, when Laura Bassett scored a freak own goal, inadvertently deflecting Nahomi Kawasumi's cross beyond Karen Bardsley.

Sampson’s side were clearly distraught at the final whistle, but he has backed his team to recover in time for the bronze medal match.

He added: "They don’t need a head coach to pick them up. This group of players will take ownership for what they need to do.

"With this team, one thing you know is that when they put the England jersey on they become different people – the people they dreamt they could be. This jersey gives them the chance to become that person.

"The only emotion [the players] should be feeling is absolute pride in what they have achieved in this tournament.

"We’re all incredibly proud of them."

By Glenn Lavery In Edmonton