Saturday, January 19, 2019 | ePaper
Neville excited by Japan test at women's World Cup
England manager Phil Neville admitted that a "great generation" of Japan players will pose a major threat to his team at the 2019 women's World Cup after Saturday's draw for the tournament placed them in the same group.
England have aspirations of winning the World Cup after reaching the semi-finals in 2015, only to lose 2-1 to Japan.
They also reached the last four of Euro 2017, but their hopes of progressing far in France next year could be complicated by the presence of the 2011 world champions in the same Group D, which will also feature Scotland and Argentina. However, Neville and his staff will see up close how his team compare to Japan when the nations meet in the SheBelieves Cup in the United States in March.
"That will be an interesting game but they are a team that we know a lot about," Neville said after Saturday's draw in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside Paris. "They have a great generation of footballers coming through and they are approaching the World Cup probably in the same mindset as us.
"They want to win the World Cup so that tells you what type of team we are coming up against in the third group game."
Both teams will hope to come into that match in Nice on June 19 with maximum points, which would make it a potentially crucial shoot-out for top spot.
The winners of Group D will face a third-placed team in the last 16, while the runners-up will face the winners of Group E, which could be Canada or the Netherlands.
England will start their campaign against old rivals Scotland in Nice on June 9, a match which will hold no fears for them given they beat Scotland 6-0 in their opening game at Euro 2017.