England lost in their FIFA u20 World Cup qualifier semi-final, going down 2-0 to Japan.
England found it hard to get any rhythm and get hold of the ball for most of the game and until late in the game were unable to create many chances.
“Tonight we found it difficult in the conditions, and the way Japan kept the ball,” manager Mo Marley said after the game, “Later in the game, they gave a good attempt at winning.”
About the hot weather and the ability to press high on the pitch, Marley said, “The conditions were a bit different from the last two games.
“I think the accumulation of the game meant some of the girls were a bit tired. We will look back and reflect on how the Japanese team plays good football and made it really difficult for us.
“The game plan was pretty much what brought us results in the past, but today it was not enough to get the result we needed.”
After the match, I also spoke to England captain, Grace Fisk, who was in a positive mood and looking forward to the third place play-off.
First up, I asked if the hot weather had played a part in the England performance. “Not so much the weather, the first game against North Korea was hotter than this and we performed well,” Fisk replied.
“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse in any shape or form.”
She was also full of praise for England’s opponents. “Japan they were very good today, they were the better team, they deserved to win and we wish them well in the final.
“They are the most impressive team so far, 100%, they moved us the way other teams had not done yet. Our defense was stretched today, there is no denying it.”
About pushing higher and pressing maybe too late in the game Fisk said, “We did not want to concede again, it was always on our mind. Sending a lot of people forward, if we conceded three nil, that would be the end of the game.
“We had to balance it out. We will go back analyse the game, assess it and we will see what we can do differently for the next game.
“For now, it will be a bit disappointing because we wanted to reach the final, but we will get excited [for the third-place playoff] as we want to leave the tournament with a medal.
“It’s been a great tournament. It has been amazing to be involved. As a team we knew we could reach new heights, we have done that and reached the semi-final.
“It has been amazing [to captain this side]. It’s been great to lead the team, just to be part of the journey of this u-20 team, it has been a great experience. I am very grateful to be here.”
England will be back on Friday to try to win the Bronze medal and it will be intetresting to see how they will react to this setback.