Geraint Hughes looks ahead to Canada v England in the Women's World Cup quarter-final
Last Updated: 27/06/15 10:41am
England will try to silence Vancouver when they take on Canada in the Women's World Cup on Saturday night, but Geraint Hughes says not everyone in the city is fully invested in the event.
Expect the hot dog sellers, popcorn outlets and those blokes who sell flags and scarves to be far from lazy in Vancouver. ‘Soccer’ fever is upon the city, well at least around 4.30pm it will be when 55,000 cram into BC Place Stadium.
Not everyone in the city is aware of the ‘big’ match though, I got a taxi from the waterfront area to the stadium and the driver, who as we all know have that unique way of knowing everything asked “when’s the next game?” “tomorrow.” I replied. The Taxi driver responded, “oh, who’s playing?” I mean really? Come on! Surely he should at least know the city will be full of fans looking to get to the game, he can’t just pick and choose his jobs. Vancouver could be a gold mine for him!
Oh well, that’s this World Cup in a nutshell. Either Canadians are walking or in my taxi driver’s case, wandering aimlessly, around in blissful ignorance or they are so hyped and pumped up for the game. There’s no middle ground and this is strange.
For Canadians who are pumped, they let it be known they are proud and happy. I was speaking with Canada manager John Herdman on Thursday and when we were on our way walking to our interview point Herdman was stopped three or four times in the space of 50 yards by well-wishers. “Coach! Good Job” was the gist of it. A big thumbs up and a patriotic fist pump. Herdman smiled, almost embarrassed.
Let’s remember the man plotting England’s downfall is actually an Englishman. From Consett, County Durham to being a coach at Hartlepool Utd and Sunderland to New Zealand and now Canada. The 39-year old has made the transition from a lad from the north-east to International manager look simple. And believe you me, while some people in England may not be quite sure who Mark Sampson was should he walk down their street, Herdman is a very recognisable face out on the streets in Vancouver.
Clearly we are now getting to the business end of the tournament as the FIFA volunteer police force as I like to call them, are out in force. Way too many of them, they’re clearly overstaffed.
At these matches in the build up, a day before the game the managers of both teams talk to the massed ranks of the press and media and then for TV purposes, ‘we’ – I say ‘we’ as my cameraman Alex and I have morphed into one sentient being who the FIFA volunteer police like to say no to or just stop us doing our job - are only allowed to film 15 minutes of training and do believe me when I say just 15 minutes as someone has a stop watch on it, but thanks to various volunteer police ‘we’ were stopped every 50 yards, told to go somewhere else, stopped again, threatened with being ‘locked down’ (whatever that is?) and after 10 minutes someone with common sense did appear and let us film England training. But that stopwatch hadn’t been adjusted had it? No. 5 minutes later we were I think in danger of being ‘locked down’ again. Just a mere frustration which in the grand scheme of things is utterly irrelevant, but if you were me…
One person or in this case, persons, I don’t particularly want to be though are the managers ahead of the England v Canada quarter-final. Both have reminded one another that the loser goes home. Ouch! Both have reminded one another that if it’s a bit aggressive out on the pitch, we’ll get aggressive. It’s a bit tetchy. But both know their careers and their future prospects are on the line here.
They are both young, Mark Sampson is 32, John Herdman as I mentioned earlier is 39 and clearly see the growth in the women’s game as a great career move for their skills, but also with a lot of attention on this World Cup, who knows where their future’s lie? Herdman told me he hasn’t ruled out coming back to the UK and coaching there again, preferably in charge of his beloved Newcastle Utd although he admitted probably not while Mike Ashley is there.
While Sampson has shown such a studious approach to the game. He joked with me earlier that he liked a piece we ran on SSN HQ when midfielder Fara Williams compared him with Jose Mourinho, but the more I look and observe him he’s looking more and more like Pep Guardiola to me! Maybe not yet with the Barcelona/Bayern Munich tiki-taka style, but physically he bears a striking resemblance.
He’s lean, not particularly tall, a very short haircut and whether he acknowledges it or not his eyes, like Guardiola, give away signs of anger, frustration, tiredness, but also happiness and contentment. A lot has been said about this Women’s World Cup promoting the game, getting more girls and women playing the sport, getting more women into football administration, but also as an aside, as the women’s game is taken more and more seriously are we looking at two male coaches that could breakthrough from success in women’s football to success in the men’s game? I’ll leave that with you…