Sarina Wiegman on England's World Cup chances, absentees and the importance of down time

England head coach Sarina Wiegman and her players are in Australia preparing for the Women's World Cup; the tournament begins on July 20; Lionesses' have never reached a World Cup final, something Wiegman achieved four years ago with Netherlands at France 2019

By Anton Toloui, Sky Sports News reporter

England boss Sarina Wiegman sits down with Sky Sports News' Anton Toloui to discuss the Lionesses' World Cup chances, how they'll cope without key absentees and the growth of the women's game

As Sarina Wiegman sits by the pool in the bright Australian sun, there’s only one thing on her mind - winning the World Cup.

"You never know. We came here with a dream and that's what we go for," Wiegman tells Sky Sports with a smile at England's pre-tournament base on the Sunshine Coast.

"England has done well in former tournaments and yes, we want to win every game."

England decided to head to the beachside town in Queensland for a relaxed setting to get over jet lag and adjust to life on the other side of the world.

Don't be fooled by the players' social media pages. Among the kangaroo spotting and whale watching has been intense training sessions and off-field preparations.


It's an environment carefully cultivated by Wiegman and her team.

Ahead of the World Cup, Sarina Wiegman has been explaining the mood in the England camp with issues surrounding bonuses and FIFA's decision to introduce eight captain armband options

"We're working hard, but the balance between working hard to improve and having some time off to switch to get some headspace is important," she added.

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"We are not robots. This environment helps too. We want everyone to be fit and well when the tournament kicks off."

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When around camp, you'll often see the Dutch coach with a laptop in hand about to prepare her next session, or chatting with one of the backroom team about the finer details of tournament life.

Wiegman insists, however, she's not immune to the local ways of relaxing.

"I went whale watching, we had one day off, so I went with the group, it was really nice. The beach is in walking distance, so sometimes I go for a little dive in the sea.

"Of course it's intense, I want to do well and perform, but I do switch off. Switching off can be half an hour, an hour and then go back to work… perhaps I have a drink. I don't go out all evening, I don't really need that."

Wiegman admits it was "hard to say goodbye" to family and friends for almost two months, but it's also been tough preparing for the tournament without some key players from last year's Euros success.

Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Fran Kirby are all out with long-term injuries, something Wiegman has had to battle on a personal and professional level.

Image: Euros winner Beth Mead (left) is one of the players missing this summer.

"For them it's really, really sad they can't make it here to make the tournament," says Wiegman, who is always hesitant to talk about individual players.

"That's hard on a personal level, of course. You have those conversations with them and hope they're doing well and then you have to move on.

"It's hard, but that's part of top sport. Sometimes players get injured and other players have to step up, take responsibility and show what they can do.

"That's how it works, that's what's good about this team. They've showed it at their club teams and now they're showing it here and hopefully they can show it on the pitch too."

Sarina Wiegman's England squad have landed in Australia ahead of their first Women's World Cup match against Haiti on Saturday July 22

England have never reached a World Cup final, something Wiegman achieved four years ago when she led Netherlands at France 2019.

Her side lost to the all-conquering Unites States, but optimism is high with her adopted nation this time around.

"You can be very excited, I think we're in a good place," she said.

"Everyone is getting to the next level again. The team is very excited, we have one more week to prepare for Haiti and we'll be absolutely ready to go."

Everyone is getting to the next level again. The team is very excited, we have one more week to prepare for Haiti and we'll be absolutely ready to go.
Sarina Wiegman, England manager

It helps that fans in Queensland have, despite the traditional Australia-England sporting rivalry, adopted England as their second team.

"When you get close to the first match, fans will be close, we'll get the vibe.

"We've already got the vibe - 3,000 people came to our first training session. We didn't expect that.

"They were very positive towards us, we're very popular."

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Wiegman will be more than popular 10,000 miles away in England if she can turn her World Cup "dream" into a reality.

She's already a CBE, FIFA Coach of the Year and a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau - but becoming a World Cup-winning coach is the only accolade she's after this summer.

When and where is the 2023 Women's World Cup?

This year's tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand making it the first-ever co-hosted Women's World Cup.

The tournament starts on July 20 with the final taking place on August 20 in Sydney at the Accor Stadium.

The USA are the defending champions and are looking to become the first team in the competition's history to win the tournament three times in a row.

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