Mark Sampson wants England Women to win every match

Wednesday 04 Mar 2015
Mark Sampson has won 10 of his 14 matches as England head coach

Mark Sampson has laid down the gauntlet to his England Women’s team.

The head coach has taken 24 players to the Cyprus Cup, an annual friendly tournament which England have competed in since 2009.

England, twice winners and runners-up to France last season, open up against Finland on Wednesday followed by two more Group B matches, against Australia and Holland. They will have one final match against one of the four teams in Group A – Scotland, Canada, Italy or South Korea.

Cyprus Cup fixtures

v Finland (4 March)
v Australia (6 March)
v Netherlands (9 March)

And with the World Cup just over three months away, Sampson has challenged his team to leave Cyprus with a 100 per cent record – and the trophy.

He said: "This team has to be focused on winning every game.

"Whether that’s a competitive match, a five-a-side in training or a friendly, these players have to be dedicated to wanting to win all the time. The players are fully aware of what I expect from them.

"We know we’ve got the bigger picture of the World Cup, with players fighting for places and the team wanting to develop their style, but we want to do that by winning football matches. That is what we are focused on.

"As much as this is essentially a development camp, it’s a tournament that we want to win."

England Women

Sampson steered England through a flawless World Cup qualifying campaign

Sampson continued: "The players also know this is a chance for them to stake their claim for a place on the plane to Canada.

"We’ve got a big pool of players who will feel they are capable of being in the World Cup squad, and about 20 who believe they should be in the starting eleven, and that’s good for me as a head coach.

"There is no tomorrow when it comes to World Cup selection. You’ve got to give it your all. The players have to embrace that challenge."

England will be in Cyprus for a total of 15 days, which is the longest amount of time Sampson will have with his players before they fly to Canada for the World Cup.

They have one final home match, against China in Manchester on Thursday 9 April, before a training camp at St. George’s Park in May.

So the days Sampson has left with his squad before the summer are limited and he is determined to take full advantage of the fortnight on the Mediterranean.

He added: "This time we’ve got together here in Cyprus is crucial. We need to make sure we are making use of every single minute.

"We still have a lot of work to do and we want to make sure we are a significantly better unit come the end of this tournament. There’s a lot of work going on off the field to help ensure this group of players are ready to fight for the cause in June.

"The players are aware of the hard work they need to put in over the next week and a half. If we achieve all our objectives, we will be in a much better place."

Sampson’s charges are expecting a different test from each of their Cyprus Cup group opponents, and the 32-year-old is delighted with the fact his team will face three very different styles, which is what he is expecting from his group stage opponents at the World Cup, France, Mexico and Colombia.

“This team has made progress in the last year, without a shadow of a doubt”


He said: "It’s a good group for us in terms of the variety of opponent. It’s great for us to face different types of challenges and we have to deal with those different types of threats.

"More importantly we want to impose our own style on our opponent. We did that a bit last year but there were some games where we were dictated to. Whether we have got the ball or not, we have to be in control of the situation."

He added: "This team has made progress in the last year, without a shadow of a doubt.

"We have got a long way to go in order for them to be the team I want them to be, but if someone had said to me this time last year this team would be where they are now, having performed like they have done, I would have been absolutely delighted.

"We’re in a great place right now and the challenge is to maintain that level of hard work and improve even more."

Tickets for the home match against China are on sale now, priced £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions. Tickets are available via or in person at the Manchester City box office at Etihad Stadium

By Glenn Lavery in Larnaca, Cyprus