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England’s first World Cup game against Haiti kicks off within hours

England are kicking off their World Cup campaign down under with an opening match against Haiti.

The Lionesses go into the tournament off the back of their Euro 2022 win last year and as one of the big favourites to lift the World Cup trophy in August.

England sit 49 places above Haiti in the global rankings, and are expected to win comfortably in Brisbane later on.

How good is Haiti’s team?

Haiti’s Les Grenadieres are making their Women’s World Cup debut.

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They’re 53rd place in the global rankings – the highest they’ve ever achieved – England are 4th.

One Haiti player to keep an eye on is Lyon midfielder Melchie Dumornay, known as Corventina. The 19-year-old was named the “best young player in the world” in the NXGN Awards for football’s wonderkids in 2022 – alongside England’s Jude Bellingham.

Coach Nicolas Delepine brings over 20 years of experience in French football and previously coached the Grenoble women’s team.

Haitian football has been marred by several sexual abuse scandals, particularly those allegedly involving the former president of the football federation Yves Jean-Bart.

In November 2020, FIFA banned Mr Jean-Bart for life from all football-related activities for allegedly sexually abusing female players – but the sentence was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in March 2022. Mr Jean-Bart denies any wrongdoing.

More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for the big game which starts at 7.30pm local time (10.30am UK time).

The team will also face Denmark and China in their Group D games.

Talismanic boss Sarina Wiegman said her squad will do “everything” they can to bring the World Cup home, but warns facing opposition lower down the ranks means they have more to lose.

“We’re here and we have a dream, and of course there’s always a chance to win the World Cup, and many more countries can win the World Cup I think, but of course we’re going to give our everything,” she said.

More on Lionesses

“The pressure is always something. Everyone expected England to win anyway… so that’s not different.

“What we’re just trying to do is play our game and focus on what we have to do and how we can win, and that’s basically what we do all the time, so bring it back to what actions we need to take as a team.”

Read more:
England goalkeeper hits out at Nike over shirt row
Analysis: Women ’empowered’ ahead of World Cup

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1:55

Lionesses set for World Cup opener

Wiegman is no stranger to the World Cup, having made it to the final in 2019 with the Netherlands but ultimately losing to the USA, who will be looking to retain the trophy.

However, while the Lionesses prepare to run out on to the pitch in Australia, they have expressed their disappointment after not being able to come to an agreement with the Football Association around performance-based bonuses and commercial endeavours.

For the first time, FIFA prize money will be paid directly to the Lionesses squad rather than the FA, and England’s players have been pushing the association to top up the central payments awarded to every side since 2022.

But captain Millie Bright said the squad had to put conversations on hold in order to focus on their campaign, saying they want to grow the women’s game.

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Who are the favourites to win?

Soccer Football - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 - Haiti Training - Perry Park, Brisbane, Australia - July 21, 2023 Haiti's Darlina Joseph during training REUTERS/Dan Peled
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The Haiti team in training

British expats and England supporters who’ve flown to Australia are planning a day of activities leading up to the game and the city’s well-known British style pubs are planning for a big crowd.

Brisbane was quiet early on Saturday morning but it is expected to ramp up.

George Gallantree established the British branch of the
Image:
George Gallantree established the British branch of the ‘Barmy Army’

George Gallantree established the British branch of the “Barmy Army” and can’t wait to support the Lionesses.

“We’re really excited to see them,” he told Sky’s Nicole Johnston in Brisbane.

“I think it’s a chance for young girls to see their idols play. Girls’ football is huge in Australia and it’s growing by the day.”

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