The England women’s team has been inspired by training at one of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup stadiums as they aim for glory in two major tournaments this year. The Lionesses arrived in Doha last week for a week-long training camp at Khalifa International Stadium. Led by head coach Phil Neville, the players are preparing for next month’s SheBelieves Cup in the United States, while also having one eye on the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will kick off on 7 June in France.
Neville, who won six Premier League titles and one Champions League with Manchester United, told sc.qa his side had been inspired by their surroundings.
He said: “I didn’t tell the players we would be training at Khalifa Stadium – I kept it as a surprise for them – and when they came into the stadium, they were blown away. To be in a World Cup stadium was a big moment for them.”
Neville added: “I preach to the players every day about raising standards – and we’ve come to a country where nothing but the best is acceptable. The facilities, weather and conditions are great, and what I’ve witnessed over the past few days is that the players have risen their standards. This was the perfect setting to get people thinking about winning the World Cup.”
Neville said he expected the 2022 men’s tournament to be one of the greatest ever. “I’ve been here about 15 times and every time I come there’s been more development,” said Neville, who visited the SC’s Legacy Pavilion with two colleagues from the English Football Association: Baroness Sue Campbell, Head of Women’s Football, and David Faulkner, Head of Women’s Performance. “The facilities for the World Cup are going to be absolutely amazing and the unbelievable warmth of the people means this could be one of the greatest World Cups of all time.”
Neville, who took over as head coach of the Lionesses a year ago, said he was impressed with Qatar’s compact tournament plans – saying they’d be a massive boost for players and fans. “The lack of distance between venues means you can play a game at lunchtime and then go and watch Brazil play at night. This is something that’s probably never happened before at a World Cup. If I was a player, I’d be dying to get out here. I don’t see the negativity – all I see is great infrastructure, great ambition and the legacy the Qataris want to leave. It’s the first World Cup in this region and when you talk about the World Cup, you want to inspire the world, so you’ve got to take it to other parts of the world. Coming to Qatar is the next step on the World Cup journey.”
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