Sampson: England ready for physical Colombia test

Tuesday 16 Jun 2015
England Women's boss Mark Sampson

Mark Sampson said his England team are prepared for a battle against Colombia, as the Lionesses prepare to seal their place in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

England are currently second in Group F, behind Colombia, and a point on Wednesday would guarantee their place in the last 16.

But the South Americans have five players on a yellow card and Sampson is expecting Felipe Taborda’s side to provide a physical test.

England v Colombia

FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Group F
9pm BST, Wednesday 17 June
Olympic Stadium, Montreal
Live on BBC Three

He said: "Our opposition analyst has watched them five times. We are fully aware of what qualities they bring. We know what type of team to expect.

"We are facing a team who will pose a huge physical threat. We know what type of challenge to expect in that respect. We’ve got players who are ready for that, players like [Jo] Potter, [Katie] Chapman and Jade [Moore].

"If they [Colombia] want to bring that type of game I’m sure we can bring it back. We will respect the officials to make sure that if that situation happens again it will be controlled.

"But this game is about England. It’s about England building momentum. The team is in a good place after the Mexico victory. It wasn’t only a win, it was a good performance.

"There’s a huge amount of energy in the group and they are looking forward to showing that on the field."

The four best third-placed teams will also make it through to the knock-out stages, meaning a draw against Colombia would be enough to send England through regardless of the result in the other game in the group, between France and Mexico.

They could even lose and still advance, as long as France also lose and results go their way in the final Group E matches later in the day.

England boss Mark Sampson instructs his team from the sideline

Sampson has won 15 of his 22 matches in charge of England

But Sampson wants to ignore all the various permutations and simply focus on a victory for his side.

He added: "It’s about England winning. Whatever France do or whatever Mexico do is up to them. We will be comfortable with the result as long as it’s an England win.

"We won’t be paying attention to the French result. We will be completely focused on what we can control.

"You could see towards the end of the Canada-Holland game [on Monday] that it had a real knock-out feel about it. We are in a different situation. Our destiny is completely in our own hands.

"We want to finish in the top two positions which means we need to get a victory and that will be the players’ focus. If France manage to score lots of goals and overtake us, then so be it.

"Our focus has got to be performing to our maximum level, focus on the game in front of us and get an England victory."

The 32-year-old went on to praise his team for the progress they have made during his time in charge.

They won all six World Cup qualifiers under his stewardship, picked up a notable 4-0 win over Sweden last August and won the Cyprus Cup in March, defeating World Cup hosts Canada in the final.

And Sampson reckons his squad can build on their two Group F performances so far and get even better as the tournament goes on.

Karen Carney (right) is congratulated after scoring the second goal against Mexico

Karen Carney (right) is congratulated after her winning goal against Mexico

He said: "We do have self-belief. They are exceptionally talented players. We came into the tournament in a [rich] vein of form. The team has been growing over the last year.

"We had a very clear method of how we were going to prepare for this tournament and how we wanted the tournament to go. It was about delivering performances.

"So far we haven’t quite got to the standards we believe we can get to, but we are confident we can keep building momentum [and] keep developing aspects of our game."

Sampson continued: "Preparation has been good. The team are coming off the back of a very positive performance and victory against a good Mexican team which put us in a good position in the group.

"We know what we need to do to progress to the last 16 and we are focused on that.

"We have prepared as hard for this game as we have the first two. The challenge for this team is to raise the bar."

By Glenn Lavery in Montreal, Canada