Tuesday 21 January 2020

England can go all the way but Scots are dark horses says Megan

Ireland’s Campbell feels USA can be beaten
Ireland’s Campbell feels USA can be beaten

The fact that Ireland have not qualified for the Women's World Cup will make the tournament, which starts in France today, a hard watch for those who tried to make it there.

But Ireland international Megan Campbell feels that while the Republic don't have a presence there, the 2019 finals is a chance for the European teams to stand up and be counted after years of dominance by the USA.

The finals kick off in Paris today when hosts France play South Korea. The USA are the reigning champions, have won three of the seven World Cup titles and have never finished any lower than third place.

That's a challenge for smaller nations like Scotland to cope with, but Drogheda native Campbell feels that Europe's time might be here and she backs the Scots as dark horses for France 2019.

"It will be the best and the most competitive tournament we've ever had," said Campbell, about to sign a new contract with Manchester City.

"I have a good few friends taking part and I'd like to see players from my club, players I know, do well, for them to have success and have a good tournament.

"Physically and in terms of fitness, the US have dominated for years and years, no one was able to get to their level, but over time the European nations have got closer, they have all improved.

"Teams are better technically but the USA's physical attributes are ridiculous.

"But you can see the gap is closing. Before this tournament, Scotland played Brazil and beat them, that was a game you'd expect Brazil to win but the game has changed and that's good for the sport.

"I think England will win it, if they play to the way they can. And I have watched them play, so I know how good they can be - they will win it.

"But France and the USA are big teams, France are the home nation and that counts for a lot. Maybe there will be an upset, someone like Spain can come through. You might look at the tournament from the outside and think it will be England, France or the USA, but someone could come from the fringes.

"Scotland will do quite well, they are in a tough group with Argentina and England but they will do okay, they are a lot better than they were in the Euros. They have a good squad, they have players at a high level in England and abroad, they will do okay."

Asked to pick out one player who can light up the tournament, Campbell goes for someone she knows from Manchester City, now playing her club football with Lyon.

"My former team-mate at City, Nikita Parris, she can stand out, she plays up front for England and she is an unbelievable little player.

"She has great skills, knows where the back of the net is, and I think she can do really well," says Campbell, who still rues the fact that Ireland missed out.

"It will be hard to watch it with us not there. As a professional, you want to compete at the highest level possible and that's the World Cup. When your national team comes so close but doesn't succeed it is hard to watch.

"The World Cup is such a big occasion and something I'd love to be part of and hopefully we can be part of the Euros when they come around next time.

"It's good to see my team-mates compete at the highest level, and I want to make that step as well, drive on the Irish team to be successful."

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