'England's ability is every reason for us to have belief'

Tuesday 30 Jun 2015
Mark Sampson address his squad ahead of the World Cup semi-final

Mark Sampson is confident his England Women’s side have the ammunition to shoot down holders Japan in the World Cup semi-final.

The Lionesses will take on the 2011 winners in Edmonton, Canada, for the right to face USA in Sunday’s final.

Japan, who have won every match at this year’s tournament, have been labelled the Barcelona of women’s football, such is their passion for possession.

Japan v England

FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
Live on BBC One from 11.10pm, Wednesday

But Sampson believes he has enough talent in his ranks to hurt England’s heralded opponents.

He said: “I think we’ll see a game of contrasting styles and it’s going to be about which team can force their style on the opponent.

“We'll have to appreciate and respect the quality they've got, but I've got some half-decent players technically myself.

"In tight spaces Japan have a way of moving the ball that could cause lots of teams problems – but there's a lot of weapons that England will chuck their way.”

England duo Laura Bassett (left) and Jade Moore celebrate in Vancouver

England Women have reached a first-ever World Cup semi-final

Initially criticised in some quarters for the defensive approach he took in the opening-day defeat by France, England’s head coach has since received plaudits for his tactical flexibility and careful squad management during this World Cup.

Sampson asked his side to be more expansive in the last two group matches, against Mexico and Colombia, and they came away with two important victories.

England then bounced back from going a goal down against Norway in the second round before finishing strongly and coming away with a 2-1 win.

They raced into a two-goal lead against Canada in the quarter-final and, after Christine Sinclair halved the deficit, were forced to hang on for an historic win.

Sampson said: “We've been very adaptable in this tournament. We have found ways to win football matches.

Mark Sampson has urged bosses to let their staff lie-in for the Lionesses

"We've seen an England team work the ball through the thirds and create goalscoring chances, we've seen an England team play from back to front quickly, we've seen an England team press flat out but also, when we need to, defend our goal.

"And of course there's that element of the set-piece as well. We're not going to be a one-trick pony.

“We can score different types of goals, we score at different times in games and we’ve shown that whatever type of game it is we can find a way to create chances.”

England are the lowest-ranked team [sixth] to reach the semi-finals, but Sampson is unperturbed. 

He said: "We’re here to stay. We've upset the apple cart so far and that'll be our intention again.”

By Glenn Lavery In Edmonton, Canada