Sarina Wiegman praised the ruthlessness of her England team after they beat Australia in front of a large, and sometimes hostile, crowd to reach the Women’s World Cup final for the first time on Wednesday.
The 53-year-old, who will be the first coach to lead two different teams to World Cup finals after her native Netherlands lost the title-decider four years ago, said she was fast running out of words of praise for the team.
“I can hardly describe how proud I am of the team, they’ve adapted before the tournament, during the tournament and now in this game again. How we came through and found a way to win again, it’s so incredible,” she said.
“This team has ruthlessness,” she added. “Whether it’s up front or in defence, we really want to keep the ball out of the net, we really want to win and we stick together and we stick to the plan, and it worked again.”
England certainly showed that ruthlessness early in Wednesday’s game when they stopped Australia’s transition with some industrial midfield challenges that had the crowd howling.
They were also clinical in front of goal with Ella Toone, Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo taking their chances to ensure Sam Kerr’s stunning strike for Australia was little more than a consolation.
England have now lost only once in 38 matches since Wiegman took over as coach in 2021, a 2-0 defeat in a friendly against Australia in London that ended a 30-match unbeaten run
That run included last year’s Euros title triumph, which Wiegman said had changed the lives of her players but had never affected their performance.
“We’re still getting better every day,” she said.
“I think what we have seen this tournament is that we can adapt to situations we haven’t been in before and that the players can translate what we want to do to pitch really well.
“And that also has to do with some very experienced players and a lot of intelligence in the team.”
Wiegman’s regard for her players is clearly reciprocated.
“The mentality of this group is something I’ve never seen before,” said defensive leader Millie Bright.
“I think that comes from Sarina as well, and the belief that she gives us, within ourselves but also what she gives us.”
The Lionesses will return to Stadium Australia on Sunday to play Spain with the world title on the line.
“We are still celebrating now,” Wiegman said. “Tomorrow morning we’ll start getting ready for Sunday. We’re glad we have a couple of days.”