Sarina Wiegman said it is “absolutely” time to start getting excited about England’s showdown the USA after her European champions secured their place at next summer’s World Cup next summer with a 2-0 away defeat of Austria.
England’s friendly against the world champions at Wembley was contingent on the team qualifying for the World Cup, but tickets for the pending game sold out in less than 24 hours. “I’m really, really excited about that game but you have to put it to the back of your mind until you’ve qualified and you never know what happens,” Wiegman said after the European champions’ first game a month on from their triumph at Wembley.
The Lionesses next face Luxembourg in the final game of their qualifying campaign. “Of course, with our standards we should beat Luxembourg, but that’s not how we think, we approach the first game [against Austria] wanting to win and play well and show who we are.”
The manager expressed her pride in how her players – who are still in pre-season – had handled the pressure of playing the same Austrian starting XI that faced Germany in the Euros quarter-finals. “I think after all that I’m very proud of the team,” she said. “It looked so easy but I think it was very hard.”
The win took Wiegman’s tally to 19 wins and two draws in her 21 games in charge of England and a point in Wiener Neustadt sealed top spot in Group D and a place at next summer’s showpiece in Australia and New Zealand. Wiegman maintained she certainly had not forgotten what it’s like to lose. “Of course you remember losing, but you never get bored with winning,” she grinned.
Among the fans were some Austrians supporting England and who requested Wiegman’s autograph, and the manager was asked if she had made England cool: “I think we made England cool. England has been cool before. I think they just like the shirts.
“The way we played, the way the tournament was, not just England I think there were so many very good games. We wanted to inspire the nation but I think this tournament inspired Europe. That’s pretty exciting too. People come up to us and they want our signatures and they’re Austrian people.”