England’s record at major tournaments at this age level is largely unremarkable, and they have never made it past the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. A bright future seemed to beckon when their class of 2009 won the UEFA European U-19 Women’s Championship, but England then finished bottom of their section at the world finals in Germany the following year and failed to even qualify for Japan 2012. This year’s showpiece, therefore, offers the chance to rewrite their World Cup story.
England arrive at Canada 2014 with spirits high, having enjoyed an excellent campaign at last year’s UEFA European U-19 Championship in Wales. Mo Marley’s spirited side went all the way to the final, losing to France only after extra time, and racked up four successive clean sheets en route. A 4-0 win over fellow U-20 Women’s World Cup finalists Finland in the semi-finals also emphasised that this English side can pack a formidable punch going forward.
A 41-times capped England international and a successful club manager with Everton Ladies, Marley knows what is required to succeed at the highest level and has been effusive in her praise of the Canada-bound Lionesses. “I've never worked with a group so focused,” she said. “These girls want to show they've got what it takes to play on a world-class stage in Canada. They trust us and we trust what they're capable of doing, and I think the partnership works well.”