The Lionesses head to France as one of the FIFA Women’s World Cup favourites but they will need to bounce back from their defeat to New Zealand in Brighton last weekend.
Former Manchester City star Toni Duggan remains confident that England can be victorious at this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, despite suffering that shock defeat.
The Lionesses have been touted as one of the favourites to win the tournament in France, but a narrow 1-0 loss in their final preparation game left much to be desired from Phil Neville’s side.
An early second-half strike from Sarah Gregorius proved the difference at the Amex Stadium, even though England dominated for large periods and spurned several promising chances.
Duggan has remained undeterred by the result and insists that she and her team-mates have what it takes to be successful this summer.
She told Rob Sills of the University of Derby’s Football Journalism course: “It was a preparation game so whether you win, lose or draw then that’s all it is. We are still going into the tournament as one of the favourites and we are aiming to go a couple of steps further than we did in Canada.”
At the last FIFA Women’s World Cup, England finished third after beating Germany 1-0 after extra-time in the third-place play-off, where Duggan was an unused substitute. This time, the Barcelona forward has set her sights on eclipsing the team’s achievements in 2015 and going for glory.
She added “I think we can go all the way, but we need to focus on the first game against Scotland because we know that’s going to be a tough test and then we have little targets that we need to reach along the way like getting out of the group and doing it step by step. But why can’t we go all the way and win it?”
The upcoming tournament looks set to be one of the biggest of all time, with the rise in popularity of women’s football drawing intrigue from around the world. Duggan believes that a larger audience will help the team, and is excited to see what lies ahead in France. She said: “The women’s game is growing year-by-year and we know that
this World Cup is going to be massive.
“It’s nice to play in front of 20,000 people now but with that comes pressure and being a role model. Everything is scrutinised but that’s what we want. We are always looking for more media, more scrutiny and we’ve got that now, but we need to perform on the pitch.
“I just want to help the team as much as possible and I’ll be ready for whatever comes my way.”
England kick-off their FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 campaign against rivals Scotland in Nice on Sunday, before going on to face Argentina and former finalists Japan in Group D.
By Rob Sills (@Sillsy9)