ORLANDO (AFP) – England striker Ellen White is determined to prove the Lionesses are worthy rivals to the United States (US) today as the SheBelieves Cup kicks off in Florida.
The four-nation tournament gets under way in Orlando with Spain taking on Japan before England face the USA in a rematch of last year’s World Cup semi-final.
For White, today represents a chance for revenge against the Americans, who won the World Cup semi-final 2-1 before going on to win a fourth title.
White, who bagged six goals in France to finish joint top-scorer alongside the USA’s Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, said the English women are striving for the consistency of the Americans.
“They’ve always been that team that have gone on to consistently win and win major tournaments,” the Manchester City forward told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s unbelievable for them and we want to strive to do that. It’s exciting to face them and put ourselves against them, especially with a new squad and the youngsters coming in for this camp.
“It’s an exciting time for us and we’ve got the belief that on any given day that we can beat the best in the world.”
White, however, admits she is still haunted by the video assisted referee (VAR) decision in the semi-final which allowed the US to complete a 2-1 victory.
Her second-half effort which was ruled offside would have pulled England level and White added, “I do sit at home at night and say ‘ahhh, I just can’t stand VAR’.
“My husband will say the same thing! It’s frustrating. I still get a lot of people saying stuff about VAR.
“It really irritates me but it is what it is – that’s just football. Playing the USA is always so exciting though.
“They have some unbelievable players and it’s so competitive now. (The rivalry) has got bigger and bigger each time we have played them.”
For England defender Rachel Daly, who plays her club soccer for the Houston Dash, the agony inflicted in the Lyon semi-final was long-lasting.
“It was really frustrating because everything everywhere was about them winning,” she said.
“There were billboards everywhere, walking into the airport the first thing I see is welcome home USA, World Cup champions and then they do parades.
“It was quite hard. But it was quite good for me to be able to see that and see how I want to move forward and I want to be on the receiving end of what they are receiving next time around.”
The US women, meanwhile, will head into the SheBelieves tournament brimming with confidence as they prepare for this summer’s Olympics.
USA coach Vlatko Andonovski has included 10 of the 11 players who started the World Cup final in his 23-strong squad, with Alex Morgan – who is preparing for the birth of her first child – the only key absentee.
England meanwhile head into today’s opener on the back of several lacklustre results which have left manager Phil Neville under pressure. England have won just two of their last seven games.
“We have been disappointed with our performances since the World Cup,” said White. “We’ve got a new group, it’s a fresher group, a younger group and we want to show it’s a new start for us.”
After today’s opening fixtures in Florida, the teams head to New Jersey with Japan facing England and the US playing Spain on Sunday.
The tournament concludes in Frisco, Texas on March 11 with England playing Spain, and the USA meeting Japan in a rematch of the 2015 World Cup final.