Can Lionesses achieve incredible feats in 2022?

Sarah Wegman
England have yet to lose a match under coach Sarina Wegman

It was a memorable year for the Ducks.

to become European champions at homequalified for the 2023 World Cup with a record 100%, defeating the world number one at Wembley and going an entire year unbeaten.

“You can’t beat that, you can only equalize,” England manager Sarina Wegman said, reflecting on a memorable spell.

England’s success coincided with the arrival of Wegman and they are yet to lose 26 matches under the Dutch captain since her appointment in September 2021.

They have already broken records, created history and may have changed the women’s game forever.

So, what next for their preparation for the 2023 World Cup?

“Of course we want to break all records, but record breaking doesn’t do that [give you what you need]. We always bring it back to where we have to move,” Wegman added.

“How do we stick together as a team? I really think that’s where it starts. The players feel very comfortable with that kind of approach.

“At the moment it’s doing really well and they feel really comfortable. You can tell because we’re enjoying ourselves – and winning helps.”

Within six weeks they were famous.

England celebrates winning UEFA Euro 2022
England’s women became the first major team in the country to win a major trophy by winning Euro 2022, since the men’s success at the 1966 World Cup.

Few would have imagined that 2022 would go well for the ducks. Wegman took over after England had won just four of their 14 matches and the Great Britain team had been knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games.

The July 2022 undisputed win was the highlight of the year, and Wegman revealed that players have given away their match jerseys to staff members to keep as souvenirs.

She said: “I still wear my navy but it’s not a collector’s item – I’m not too sensitive about this stuff. Of course it will stay with me forever.”

“I think if I’m going to wear a shirt as a player, I’ll absolutely keep it. Beth Mead gave me their shirt so I’m really happy to get one. This is a very good gift for us.”

The final was watched by 87,192 people at Wembley – a record for a Euros match in men’s or women’s football.

The late Queen Elizabeth II led the lionesses afterward and thousands gathered in Trafalgar Square the morning after for the celebration.

The lionesses’ faces were on the front and back pages of every national newspaper, while murals were painted across the country in various cities.

The players’ lives have changed – how does Wiegmann manage that as they prepare to continue their unbeaten run and win the World Cup next summer when it takes place in Australia and New Zealand?

“There is pressure, we know,” she added. “We know that when you win, the pressure is going to be higher and higher – that’s just the way it works. What’s troubling is that the players’ lives have changed quite a bit.

“Some players have really adapted to the situation already, some players need a little bit of support. There are a lot of things outside of football that are related to football that players are now asking for.

“Finding the balance and not getting overwhelmed. It takes time. Some players are really young. Within six weeks they are English celebrities. Everyone wants something from them.”

“You have to get your mind used to your new life. It brings a lot of good things but also some sacrifices. Some guys can’t walk down the street anymore without being [mobbed by fans]. “

“We have to take our game to the next level.”

England celebrates victory over the United States at Wembley
In October, European champions England beat world champions the United States for the first time since 2017

After a perfect 2022, England’s task will arguably get even tougher next year.

There is more expectation, more pressure and greater competition – world champion the United States and Olympic champion Canada are among those who will be in the finals.

Having not yet lost a match under Wegman and thereafter defeating the United States At Wembley in October, is there still room for improvement?

“Yes, absolutely, I think we have to improve. The game is evolving very quickly,” Wegman said.

“Next year [at the World Cup]Because of the number of countries that will join the group stage, I think the start will be a little different [to Euro 2022].

“When you progress in the championship, the level will be very high. Different playing styles, different coaches – that’s exciting and challenging.

“But we have to take our game to the next level to make the chance of success as high as possible.

“There are more things we want to do to be more unpredictable and add to our game. I’m not going to share it all!”

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